Making the Grades
ROBBIN' BANKS IS WHAT BANDITS Joe (Bruce Willis) and Terry (Billy Bob Thorton) do best. In fact, they do it so well that after these escaped convicts return to their thieving ways, the pair become the focus of public adoration. Perhaps this is due to their unique MO (modus operandi). Wanting to avoid the violent and confrontational issues associated with surprise daytime holdups, the twosome opt for arriving at the bank manager's home the evening before and taking the administrator (and his family) hostage, so they will have a personal escort into the vault the next morning.
Compassionate enough to assist in feeding the children at the dinner table (one bank manager's wife reprimands her children's table manners -- "We have guests... sort of...") the notorious "Sleepover Bandits" appear to have unlimited withdrawal privileges -- until a woman comes along.
In one of many carjackings associated with their spree down the American west coast, Terry unwittingly meets Kate (Cate Blanchett), a wealthy woman neglected by her husband. In a desperate moment, Kate decides that life on the lam is better than her beefs about marriage, and decides to joins the duo. However, one woman plus two men doesn't equal a healthy balance, and soon the emotional deficit begins pulling the crooks apart.
Director Barry Levinson uses the extended duration of this movie to foil Joe as a man of action against Terry the deep thinker with neurotic and hypochondriac tendencies. Meanwhile, Kate is torn between Terry's compassion and Joe's bravado -- if only she could put the two of them together to form the perfect man.
Despite precise editing, engaging cinematography and popular songs 30-somethings will love; there is something wrong with this picture. Including depictions of a major shootout with blood spurting through clothing (although revealed to be fake), many language concerns, and a married woman who engages in extra-marital sex with both men and still can't decide which one she should run away with, Bandits' real crimes are its adept crafting to create empathy for a gang of lawbreakers and a lack of negative consequences.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Bandits.
How realistic do you think the portrayals of these bank robbers are? What do you think would be the correct way to deal with a person who is robbing a bank? What misleading ideas can movies like this promote about leading a life of crime?
In the movie, one of the robbers says that they really aren’t robbing anyone because all the money is federally insured. Does that statement justify what they do? Who pays for federal bank insurance?