Wednesday, September 09, 2020

The Gang That Couldn’t Rob Straight-Owen Wilson’s “Masterminds

The Gang That Couldn’t Rob Straight-Owen Wilson’s “Masterminds

DVD Review

By Sam Lowell

[Sometimes even a well-oiled, hard-bitten film critic or heck even somebody just into the cinema will get caught out by a big name star in a production or some actor that you really like for some personal reason. The “forget” part is that not everything these favorites do on screen is pure gold (except maybe in their pockets if they are bankable and the film really needs their name to float, or not go under). A whole separate branch of the criticism business could be devoted to some of the reasons why established stars wind up as in the film under review below playing in “turkeys.” Maybe it is just money, maybe the lure of their names always on the marquee, maybe after reading the script they really believe the thing can work. I am too close to retirement to figure the motivations out but some younger mind could make a nice career out of working that racket. S.L.]         

Masterminds, starring Owen Wilson, 2016

Sometimes when a friend recommends a film it turns out to be a dud, turns out to be less than expected and in the case of the film under review, Masterminds, make that much less than expected considering the cast. Makes one wonder why a great comedic actor like Owen Wilson took the job, took the chance to work on a funky film that had a chance to go in one of two directions, a straight line comic look at a true story or a farce that bombed. It took the latter. The direction toward the farcical led the vehicle astray when all is said and done.  

Here is the skinny, here is why the title of this piece can be called the gang that couldn’t shoot straight taking a page from an old Jimmy Breslin book. The story line based on a true incident about the doings around one of the great cash robberies in banking history, the Loomis heist in North Carolina in 1997 for seventeen big ones-17 mil, okay not chicken feed then nor now. David Scott Ghantt, a security guard on a Lommis armored truck was hook-winked, no make that bewitched and bewildered by his sexy armored truck partner, Kelly, who had walked  out on the job over some harassment. A while later she wound up working hand and hand with a low-life short end of the stick criminal Steve, played by Wilson, who wants her to con, I am being kind here since this is a family sensitive outlet, David into being the inside man on a big heist of the company’s loot. David balked at first but Kelly lured him with her charms despite the fact he was two minutes to midnight away from getting married to another woman.       

The heist was a piece of cake for an inside job and David was told to lay low in Mexico until the coast was clear. The false lure to get him to go minus the dough was Kelly joining him soon, yeah, soon. The idea Steve thought though was that David was to get the short end of the straw, was the odd man out as he, Steve, was not going to share the dough with anybody but his loving wife and two unlovable kids.

Meanwhile David was still forlornly expecting Kelly to join him in Mexico. Sucker. Double sucker because Steve threw the Feds onto him and he led them a merry chase before he got wise to what Steve, and Kelly, were up to. Steve in a panic, putting greed before good sense ordered a hit on David by a screwball hit man who couldn’t hit right-as was to be expected. They wind up switching their identities (it’s a long unfunny story so just go along with me) so that David wound up at Steve’s over-the-top mansion ready to get even. And he does in a way after the Feds got definitive proof that low-life greedy Steve and not pure-heart David was the evil mastermind behind the caper. Steve did 11 years, David pure-heart drew seven and Kelly a bunch too. With that enticing story-line it was a shame that the film was marred with so many unfunny slapstick jokes, some much low-rent bathroom humor and such a waste of an obviously talented cast. Yeah, what was Owen Wilson thinking. Some day when they do a retrospective of his work this one will not be included, I hope.      

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