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A little-remembered bank job from the Nixon era is the true-crime inspiration for this lightweight sub-Goodfellas caper, which runs low on gas and gags. In 1972, thieves broke into a California bank where Tricky Dicky was rumoured to have stashed millions of dollars in dirty campaign contributions. The FBI quickly arrested the gang, identified by fingerprints left on cutlery in a house they’d rented near the bank (some numpty had forgotten to switch the dishwasher on). But one guy, Harry Barber, went on the lam, evading arrest for eight years; he looked like a bit like Steve McQueen.
Vikings actor Travis Fimmel stars in the movie – and he, too, looks a bit like Steve McQueen, with the same azure eyes. But what’s missing in his shallow, smirking performance is anything resembling McQueen’s charisma. Fimmel plays Harry, a petty car thief from Ohio recruited to the heist by his gangster uncle Enzo (William Fichtner), a foul-mouthed weasel of a wiseguy in the Scorsese mould. There are a couple of funny culture-shock scenes as these midwestern hoods discover the pleasures of the sunshine state – eyeing up the hot tub in the garden of their rented condo with hostility.
But this really is an uneventful film, told in two timeframes to disguise how under-plotted and underwritten it is. In the first part, the heist goes more or less to plan, the gang blowing a hole in the roof of the bank with dynamite late at night. Forest Whitaker outclasses everyone as the FBI officer investigating. Eight years later, Harry, living under an assumed name and working as a barman, has to explain to his girlfriend why his mug is on an FBI poster. It’s a forgettable film, with a fair few gags that strike a depressingly sexist note. (Sample: “I’ve got a dishwasher at home. I married her.”)
• Finding Steve McQueen is available from 16 November on digital platforms.
Source: The Guardian
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