Band of Robbers

Band of Robbers

Band of Robbers

2016. Directed by Aaron and Adam Nee.

"Nothin' surprised me with Tom, nothin' but magic."

Every once in a while you find a film that you know nothing about and decide to roll the dice.  Most of the time, you're left wanting, but once in a in a blue moon you discover something truly wonderful.  That's The Nee Brothers' Band of Robbers.

A modern day adult retelling of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, this story, Band of Robbers focuses on police officer Sawyer and his criminal best friend Finn and their quest for Murrell's treasure.  Hot on their tail is the villainous Injun Joe (played by the amazing Stephen Lang) and before long things get very complicated as their crew of misfits continue to cause chaos and Tom gains a beautiful new partner (Supergirl's Melissa Benoist) who makes him rethink everything.  

The Nees' script is filled with exchanges that evoke Wes Anderson and action scenes that are cut from the Keifer Sutherland straight to dvd 90's crime films.  It's a film that is overwhelmingly child like in it's approach to the power of friendship and the wonder of dreams, but also grounded in the frightening side of crime and it's inevitable consequences.   The main theme that runs throughout is how Tom wants to be seen as a hero and Finn is the ever constant reminder of the cost of crossing the line, no matter the reason.  

The cast,boasts some amazing performances from Matthew Gray-Gubler as Harper, and Hannibal Buress as Ben Rogers.  The crew's chemistry is undeniable and just makes you smile every time the band is together on screen.  Stephen Lang brings a sense of menace to his role as Injun Joe that eclipses his previous villainous performances.  He vanishes into the part.  Melissa Benoist is charming and refreshingly funny in her turn as Tom's partner/possible love interest.   There's a scene between the two of them in a hotel room that showcases the talent of these young stars in great detail.  

As a small indie film, it's easy to get lost in the character's and dialogue, but Noah Rosenthal's cinematography is extremely powerful.  The beginning and end both feature breathtaking wide shots while the middle of the film is colored with a mustard and ketchup overlay that manages to put the imaginary journey and the real world mess that results in focus.  This is supported by Joel West's soft and copacetic score that patiently winds its way thought the saga of the robbers, rhythmically recording their failures and triumphs.  

Available now on Netflix, if you're looking for something odd that makes you smile and appreciate the bonds we make with those we love, then this is an excellent way to spend an evening. 

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