If you’ve ever wondered what the classic literary characters Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer would be up to today, the answer comes in the form of independent comedy “Band of Robbers.” The movie places these two characters in the modern era as they, alongside their friends, engage in a small-time heist for big-time rewards.
The film follows Finn (Kyle Gallner) and Sawyer (Adam Nee, also co-director with brother Aaron) who have been friends since childhood but reunite on opposite sides of the law. Finn is now a recidivist criminal and Sawyer is a police officer working in the shadow of his more successful brother, Detective Sid Sawyer (Eric Christian Olsen). Since childhood, Finn and Sawyer had one major goal: to find the long-hidden treasure stash belonging to legendary robber Murrel. But they failed at every turn, and only years later does Sawyer have a breakthrough in the search for the fabled treasure.
Sawyer decides to recruit Finn into his band of thieves which also consists of Ben Rogers (Hannibal Buress) and Joe Harper (Matthew Gray Gubler) and reluctant partner Tommy Barnes (Johnny Pemberton). There is a plot to rob a pawn shop that supposedly holds the treasure, but the heist enters a nosedive when Sawyer is assigned a partner, Becky Thatcher (Melissa Benoist). After the pawn shop turns out to be controlled by ruthless criminal Injun Joe (Stephen Lang), everything could change forever for both Finn and Sawyer as they attempt to recapture their childhood spirit.
There is a great deal of energy and quirk that moves the film along, and the Nee brothers’ enthusiasm in both writing and directing is obvious. In terms of performance, everyone does a good job, but the story, while good, is slightly generic. Keeping Sawyer and Finn as the main characters elevates the story material, especially the friendship and chemistry between them.
There are also several set-pieces of note, including a tense stand-off in a hotel that acts as the climax, while the pawn shop heist is pure comedy gold. However, the ending to the film does leave more to be desired, as it did seem a bit rushed and abrupt. The final 20 minutes deals with the rescue of Finn’s Mexican gardener, Jorge (Daniel Edward Mora), who was also part of the heist. Mora gives a standout performance and acts as the emotional and moral center of the film, as a few scenes focus on Jorge and his hopes to see and support his family again.
Although the story may seem a tad cliché and generic at times, the performances are fantastic and the chemistry between them is fun to watch. Lang portrays a good, albeit underused villain, and most of the movie moves along nicely. There could have been a better ending, but overall, it does not sap enjoyment from the film as a whole.
Film: “Band of Robbers”
Directors: Adam and Aaron Nee
Release Date: Jan 15, 2016