You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Film Review: ‘Marauders’

It's a bank-robbery thriller and a "political" exposé all at once: No wonder this overly elaborate potboiler turns into a muddle.

Bruce Willis, Christopher Meloni, Dave Bautista, Adrian Grenier, Lydia Hull, Tyler Jon Olson, Christopher Rob Bowen, Richie Chance, Chris Hill, Texas Battle, Tara Holt.
Release Date:
Jul 1, 2016

Official Site: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3963816/

It’s become a highly reliable cliché to open a thriller with a bank robbery in which the robbers wear really creepy masks — a gambit that kicked into high gear 25 years ago with “Point Break.” But let’s at least give “Marauders” some credit: The masks in this movie up the creep factor to a whole new level. They’re thick dark armor adorned with sketchy skulls that look as if they might have been drawn by Jean-Michel Basquiat. (If you were standing in a bank and someone showed up wearing this, you’d be scared.) The underworld fashion statement is matched, in this case, by a 21st-century criminal efficiency, with a smartphone’s computerized she-voice calmly explaining to everyone that if the police get called within 15 minutes, a bomb will go off. The hook of this sort of opener is that it gets you to look at those masks and think: The people hidden under there must be awesomely monstrous. But considering that “Marauders” turns out to be a muddled “political” crime thriller, the revelation of their identities comes to seem almost terrifying in its banality.

A more grounded form of menace arrives early on, when Bruce Willis shows up as Hubert, the president of a Cincinnati bank, who likes to ruminate on such matters as the spider crawling outside his window. In the right role, Willis can, of course, be a fine and forceful actor, and the makers of “Marauders” no doubt decided that his middle-aged hard-ass squint could play as a dry display of power. But it’s the wrong kind of power. Willis is too relaxed and casual, too laissez faire an actor to be convincing as a rigorously controlled (and controlling) financial manager. Hubert always seems disgruntled, and it’s hard to tell whether that’s because his bank branches are getting knocked off, or because he’s secretly behind the robberies and they aren’t going as planned, or because Bruce Willis is simply getting huffy at having to emote too much. From the start, he makes “Marauders” feel like the cooked-up concoction it is.

For about 45 minutes, director Steven C. Miller gets some entertainingly brusque exchanges going among the actors playing law enforcers. Christopher Meloni, who after a dozen or so years on “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” is a maestro at taking small compact encounters and charging them with tension, plays Montgomery, an FBI agent who’s been called in to investigate the robberies. Meloni, exuding his refined brand of ballbusting, makes Montgomery an essentially decent guy who pushes people around with his brains. Chief among his antagonists is a local cop (Johnathon Schaech) who seems up to his ears in corruption (their every encounter is a mini turf war). And then there’s Wells, an FBI rookie played by Adrian Grenier with a boyish haircut and a severe expression that says to the audience, “Please forget all about Vincent Chase.” At first, you may think that Grenier looks just about as lost as…well, Vincent Chase in a mediocre genre film. But he gives a tightly wired performance, even when he has to do things we just can’t buy.

It used to be that low-budget crime thrillers had a low-grade appeal. Now they all have to have cred. The script of “Marauders” is complicated enough to make you think that the screenwriters, Michael Cody and Chris Sivertson, thought that they were remaking “Chinatown.” They weave together plot strands as if they were knitting a film-noir lanyard. Years before, Hubert’s brother was kidnapped; also years before, Montgomery’s wife and fellow agent was tortured to death during a sting operation. (That’s why he orders a ritual glass of red wine at their favorite bar and just sits there, not drinking it.) Hubert is involved in some sort of shady business to do with his banks — maybe the robberies, maybe blackmail (since he has access to his wealthy clients’ safety-deposit boxes). The robbers themselves are master terrorists who know how to sneak right onto your computer screen. But you see, there was also this platoon of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan, involved in a deadly incident, and as the film begins to piece together who each of those soldiers was…

Well, as that happens, something strange occurs: The pieces all fall into place, and the movie starts to make even less sense than it did before. You simply can’t hold this particular conspiracy in your head, because it’s all been plotted out on paper, but it doesn’t hold water in the real world. And so it mocks the very seriousness with which “Marauders,” in its destined-for-VOD way, is made.

What does hold water is the movie’s cinematography. It would have to, since almost every scene is drenched in rain, a form of atmosphere that quickly becomes oppressive, because of how thoroughly it merges with the film’s overall glossy look of blue-grey televisual gloom. “Marauders” is a semi-oddity, an overly ambitious potboiler. You can respect the impulses of the people who made it and still feel as if it came out of a box that read “Just add water.”

Film Review: 'Marauders'

Reviewed at Magno, New York, June 21, 2016. MPAA Rating: R. Running time: 107 Min.

Production: A Lionsgate Premiere release of a Grindstone Entertainment, Emmet/Furla/Oasis Films, Aperture Media Partners, The Fyzz Facility, 4th Wall Entertainment production. Produced by Randall Emmett, George Furla, Joshua Harris, Rosie Charbonneau, Mark Stewart. Executive producers, Montgomery Blencowe, Barry Brooker, Ted Fox, Wayne Marc Godfrey, Anthony Jabre, Robert Jones, Corey Large, Vance Owen, Andrew C. Robinson, Steven Saxton, Kirk Shaw, Jason Trawick, Jared Underwood, Slava Vladimirov, Stan Wertlieb. Co-producers, Anthony Callie, Timothy C. Sullivan.

Crew: Directed by Steve C. Miner. Written by Michael Cody, Chris Sivertson; camera, Brandon Cox (color, widescreen); editor, Vincent Tabaillon; production designer, Niko Vilaivongs; costume design, Bonnie Stauch; music, Ryan Dodson; casting, Lynn Myers.

With: Bruce Willis, Christopher Meloni, Dave Bautista, Adrian Grenier, Lydia Hull, Tyler Jon Olson, Christopher Rob Bowen, Richie Chance, Chris Hill, Texas Battle, Tara Holt.

More Film

  • Shailene Woodley probation Dakota Pipeline protest

    Cannes: Infotainment China Media Snaps Up "Misanthrope"

    Chinese sales and distribution company Infotainment China Media has bought the China rights to “Misanthrope,” the new serial killer thriller starring Shailene Woodley, from FilmNation Entertainment at Cannes. Woodley (“Big Little Lies”, the “Divergent” franchise”) will play a cop recruited by the FBI to hunt down a murderer. Damian Szifron (“Wild Tales”) and Jonathan Wakeham [...]

  • Watch Karen O & Danger Mouse’s

    Watch Karen O & Danger Mouse’s ‘Encounter With Lux Prima’ Documentary (EXCLUSIVE)

    Karen O & Danger Mouse’s “Lux Prima” is one of the year’s best albums so far — but it’s more than an album. “An Encounter with Lux Prima – The Art of Collaboration,” a short documentary chronicling the 18-month development of their multisensory art installation “An Encounter With Lux Prima” premieres today exclusively on Variety. [...]

  • Willem Dafoe Talks 'The Lighthouse' and

    Willem Dafoe on His New Films 'The Lighthouse' and 'Tommaso,' Robert Pattinson as Batman

    Willem Dafoe has spent the last two awards seasons on the campaign trail. The actor earned back-to-back Oscar nominations for his work in 2017’s “The Florida Project” and for last year’s “At Eternity’s Gate.” And if the critical reaction to “The Lighthouse” is any indication, he’ll be back on it soon. “The Lighthouse” is director [...]

  • Official First Look at the Women

    'Terminator: Dark Fate': Linda Hamilton, Arnold Schwarzenegger Return in First Trailer

    The Resistance’s war against Skynet rages on with the sixth installment of the “Terminator” series, “Terminator: Dark Fate.” The first trailer for the latest movie dropped on Thursday. The clip opens with two franchise newcomers, Mackenzie Davis and Natalia Reyes, as they’re being pursued by a Terminator (Gabriel Luna), one that seems to have some [...]

  • Malcom McLaren’s Son Joe Corré Preps

    Malcom McLaren’s Son Joe Corré Preps ‘Wake Up Punk’ Feature Doc (EXCLUSIVE)

    Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood’s son Joe Corré has voiced his opposition to a Sex Pistols feature film in the works, and is about to launch his own project, “Wake Up Punk.” The feature documentary will follow events after his decision to burn punk memorabilia worth millions of pounds. John Lydon has already tweeted that [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content