Bandit (2022) Review

Bandit (2022) Review 1
Bandit (2022) Review
Bandit (2022)
Director(s): Allan Ungar
Actor(s): Josh Duhamel, Elisha Cuthbert, Nestor Carbonell
Film Genre(s): Crime , Drama , Thriller
Running Time: 126 min
CGM Editors Choice

Bandit has a weird, but successful way of showing a true-crime film where nobody dies. Instead, 59 heists and over two million dollars is what it took master thief Gilbert Galavan Jr. to find the American Dream in Canada. Toronto director Allan Ungar (Uncharted Fan Film, Gridlocked), tells this story engagingly across one of the “nicest” crime films you’ll ever see. I put extra emphasis on kindness and pacifism thanks to Josh Duhamel’s charming performance as The Flying Bandit, one of Canada’s most prolific bank robbers.

Duhamel (Transformers, Jupiter’s Legacy, The Callisto Protocol) brings a new class of criminal in the most Canadian way possible. The film has plenty of stickup moments viewers have seen in more visceral ways. But the R-rating is gently subverted by manners. The film’s robberies and heists get a refreshing twist, as no single bank teller freaks out.

Bandit (2022) Review 2

This is the kind of effect Duhamel runs along with as a Canadian thief. His electric and charismatic performance stays consistent throughout. Bandit’s focus on Gilbert also keeps audiences engaged with his fourth wall narration, quips and some incredibly unpredictable dialogue for laughs. Rare pauses, Scorcese-style audience chats and comedic timing with words shake the passive viewer up.

Director Allan Ungar carefully stitches each robbery with a compelling story nugget. Bandit might feel too formulaic from the most energized heist fans. But still manages to borrow from Catch Me If You Can for a two-hour ride that doesn’t lose audiences. Ungar pulls every trick in the book to make Bandit a movie that feels long under its respectable two-hour runtime.

Bandit leverages some witty humour, one toilet joke and Duhamel’s charming delivery of lies to keep audiences on their toes.”

Of course, Bandit explores the real life of Gilbert Galavan Jr., who viewers stay with along every step of the way. Without spoilers, I never felt lost in translation through Ungar’s approach with biographical films. The pacing gives viewers enough time to digest Gilbert’s fun-to-watch schemes that are done out of necessity under a struggling economy across the 1980s. Steps for the Canadian Dream are laid out in a somewhat romanticized success story. That’s if viewers can still remember Gilbert robbed almost 60 banks for it. 

Bandit (2022) Review 3

Bandit leverages some witty humour, one toilet joke and Duhamel’s charming delivery of lies to keep audiences on their toes. The film – outside its bank scenes – still fascinates as a Canadian Catch Me If You Can. While Ungar and writers rightly keep viewers over Robert Whiteman’s shoulders. Bandit doesn’t stray from its own hook around single-handed heists. The film even puts this one-man heist rule to the test, leading to some pretty big consequences.

Grounded with fact and sprinkled with some Hollywood flair, Bandit leverages Canadian values to tell a new heist story. Despite the film mostly being filmed in Georgia, Ungar and the set team have pulled all the stops for replicating Canada. Places including London (Ontario), Ottawa and Vancouver are neatly designed to look like the 1980s. Bandit only pulls Canadian viewers deeper into this setting to reflect an evolving country. An attention to detail only sells the picture – down to police uniforms, a cloudy disposition and Duhamel’s electric wardrobe.

Ungar and cinematographers know how to make history’s nicest robberies feel engaging to watch. Steady shots keep eyes glued to Whiteman’s flawless heists. In mere seconds, Duhamel transforms into a few people and disappears from banks. Bandit’s action sequences are fluid, equally tense and dynamic. Ungar’s viral Uncharted fan film with Nathan Fillion lends a hand with Bandit.

Audiences get to see an ongoing sense of motion with the right amount of personality from the cast involved. This makes Bandit’s heist scenes even more adventurous to watch. Bandit does try cutting corners along the two-hour offering. Eyes might roll at the conventional montages, cheesier getaway scenes, F-bombs and R-rated nudity that hampers an otherwise unique heist film.

Bandit (2022) Review 4

As Robert Whiteman, Duhamel clearly had some fun playing a master of disguise. Each persona is also touched on through some subtle banter. Bandit’s strong opening highlight’s Duhamel’s hilarious delivery of false police tips to keep his trail cold. Lying was Whiteman’s art around people. Bandit’s small but simple crew of supporting characters develop to match Whiteman’s wit. It’s fun to see Whiteman caught off guard by love interest Andrea (Elisha Cuthbert).

The film keeps their romance a running theme for Bandit. While the story starts to buckle under some clichés of robbing for love. Cuthbert still delivers a few twists and matches her performance with Duhamel with minimal cheese. it even makes her central past the second half in some funny ways, while Galavan struggles even harder to keep his two lives separate. The Film continues to revisit those themes of money in the 80s to justify his actions. 

Bandit works because it stays true to its unique case study.”

Nestor Carbonell doesn’t overstay his welcome as Canadian detective Snydes. While some of Bandit’s wittiest and self-aware banter comes from Sydes and his stoic partner Hoffman (Swen Temmel). Both are great to see in short bursts as they lead a manhunt for Whiteman. It still keeps its star thief front and centre. In those rare moments between Snydes and Whiteman, the film takes big nods to Catch Me If You Can

Bandit (2022) Review 5

Bandit knows how to stay fun and risky when the action continues to ramp up. Mel Gibson makes a surprisingly solid presence as cash peddler and strip club owner Tommy. Gibson doesn’t exactly deliver as a menacing figure Bandit wants audiences to see. But he adds some thoughtful exchanges with Whiteman over the years on and off heists. Here, Bandit stumbles by finding ways to use Gibson without really adding stakes. While Galavan doesn’t exactly find any tension with Bandit’s other only villain. But Tommy and Snydes both share some fun chemistry that sticks across scenes in the club.

Bandit works because it stays true to its unique case study. Canada’s most prolific bank robber gets an overdue adaptation in ways viewers can remember. It’s still delivered like a popcorn-worthy Hollywood crime film – cheesy choices and all. Gilbert Galavan/Robert Whiteman’s historical accounts are shown as unbelievable as they can be. Duhamel sets his action hero yelling aside to play a personable thief with a story. As the record two million in stolen Canadian cash racks up, Bandit can surprise viewers with facts behind Whiteman’s true story. While director Allan Ungar raises the bar for his own potential to make the most seemingly regular stories an adventure. 

Final Thoughts


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