Saturday, May 21, 2016
BAND OF ROBBERS (2016)
Written, Directed & Edited By: Adam Nee & Aaron Nee
Based On Original Characters Created By: Mark Twain
Cinematography By: Noah Rosenthal
Cast: Kyle Gallner, Adam Nee, Matthew Gray Gubler, Hannibal Buress, Stephen Lang, Eric Christian Olsen, Melissa Benoist, Beth Grant, Creed Bratton
A comedic adventure that re-imagines Mark Twain's iconic literary characters of Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer as grown men in current day. Petty criminal Huck Finn hopes to leave his criminal life behind when he is released from a stint in prison, but his lifelong friend, and corrupt cop, Tom Sawyer, has other plans. Not ready to give up on his childhood fantasies of wealth and adventure, Tom forms the "Band of Robbers," recruiting their misfit friends Joe Harper and Ben Rogers, to join them for an elaborate plan to find a fabled treasure. But the plan soon unravels, thrusting the guys on a wild journey with dangerous consequences...
This film is obviously Wes Anderson influenced. It is also a bit twee. Though it captures the theme of the characters afraid to face the future and adult life. As all of them seem to be in arrested development. While keeping their eye on this prize of hidden treasure. That if they find it will be worth all the years that it took, but you get a feeling while the completion will be sweet. They will really have to take a look around and see what their lives have become or are at. The. Really decide was it worth it. They might also have to face the now what? Factor.
Either way it is a fun ride getting there. The film starts out kind of light. Which makes it seem like a harmless caper comedy, though as the film goes along it becomes more serious and dangerous, the deeper they get into hunt for the treasure. As the film gets more violent and and the tone changes into a thriller. Almost like a easier going version of NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN. Complete with a simple philosophy spouting killer.
This all works for the film, as even though the main character is delusional at ones it seems out of his own stupidity. He is motivated and idea driven and isn't afraid to get his hands dirty. The only problem is at first it seems all those around him must pay for these ideas as far as penalties go. Though what makes this film move is that you generally like most of the characters as they are good natured and sweet. So that you care about them when danger strikes. Even if half the time it seems that they are their own worst enemies.
The film also uses the fact that the characters and story line to a degree are based on the mark twain book THE ADVENTURES OF TOM SAYWER and HUCKLEBERRY FINN. As they are the main characters and various characters and situations from the books work their way into the film set in the modern day south
This film has an awkward charm, as the only main character who seems to see that he needs to get his life right and grow up is Huckleberry Finn who seems to have had the hardest life trying to find this treasure, now an ex-con trying to straighten out his life. Which he tries to do, but with his only friend and means of support Tom Sawyer now a bored cop looming to become a detective. Keeps bringing him back into this search for treasure. Which gives hick a purpose and seems to be his addiction as every time he tries to leave. He drops right back in due to temptation.
One of the other characters explains their characters situation best when he says that before, he thought he would die alone a recluse but doing all of this is kind of an adventure that no matter what gives him a purpose and something he can look back upon with pride and tell stories about. Which pretty much sums up the spirit of the film.
Don't worry folks there is a Becky Thatcher, For all those looking for a romance.
Stephen Lang plays the major villain. He has a menace but also a ridiculousness to his scary character. For a role that in the past seemed like it would be played by Christopher walked in a fright wig. He is just generally scary and intimidating in his scenes. Which he brings a lot of energy to not necessarily in performance but his presence.
I respect the film that while copying it's style a bit creates it's own moments to help stand apart. As the film still Manages to shock the audience at times. As well as leaving an ending that reminded me of RAISING ARIZONA. Where it suggest the best and happiness. Though you suspect that is just happy thoughts compared to what probably really happens. So it has a bit of melancholy that really takes over the second half. As you hope for the best, but expect the worst. As the film is so unpredictable you don't know where to go as far as belief. That it kind of brings a tear to the eye. As you really want to spend time with these characters and really want them to succeed.
Aaron Nee stars and also co-wrote and co-directed the film and even if this was just more of a showcase for his talents. Him and his co-writer and co-director really come through strong with this debut. Where as I look forward to their future projects. As they manage to hold this film together and make it seems like more than a gimmick. The film has a bit of a hipster charm. Thought the film lasts. It stays in fashion.
The film even manages to stay true to mark twain s material. And incorporate it into a mostly believable plot and film. Giving the film a certain rural elegance as well as a certain familiar literary legacy.
It's not the heaviest of material, but isn't designed in that way either.