By William Wolf

BANDITS  Send This Review to a Friend

A pleasant and breezy caper movie with laughs, "Bandits" has fun with Bruce Willis and Billy Bob Thornton as prison escapees who take to robbing banks by surprising an executive at home at night and leading their captive to the bank for the dough in the morning. The press dubs them "the sleepover bandits" and they're fun to watch. In an added twist they pick up Cate Blanchett as a bored, disillusioned housewife who joins their escapades, and both become attracted to her.

Thornton is revved up and talks a mile minute in a role far different from the introverted character he plays in "The Man Who Wasn't There," the new film from the Coen brothers. The actor is especially in demand now, and he displays an abundance of versatility. Director Barry Levinson, working with Harley Peyton's screenplay, turns out a steadily attractive film as the bandits tear through Oregon and California in a story that unfolds in flashback.

The plot is strung out a bit too much, and as almost seems conventional by now in such films, there has to be a surprise at the end. "Bandits" isn't always believable, but realism isn't the point. The film takes us on a roller-coaster ride with appealing actors, and that's quite enough.


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