Steven C. Miller’s Marauders reminded me a little bit of a film I reviewed not too long ago called Triple 9. Both are about groups of men who rob banks and use their knowledge of law enforcement to elude the police. Both have characters using the heists for some other reason other than money. Both films feature impressive casts, have a good mood or tone as noir thrillers and both are lost because of a convoluted plot that literally sucks the life right out of these films.
Marauders features Bruce Willis, in another check casher, as a bank president whose banks are getting robbed. He is in trouble financially, so is this some kind of scheme he has cooked up to get some insurance money? The film reveals that it is something more involved than that, but it takes so long to get to this point, by then I had lost most of my interest. Christopher Meloni, who is excellent in this film, is hardened FBI agent Montgomery who is still reeling from his wife’s death at the hands of a vicious drug dealer some time ago. He sits at a bar by himself, orders a glass of red wine and stares at it. He never drinks it, though. His only escape seems to be this case and he charges into it with both fists. His team is made up of Stockwell (David Bautista), Chase (Lydia Hall) and the new guy, Wells (Adrian Grenier) and they are all a competent lot, but this case has them flummoxed. Throw in a confrontational relationship with another officer, Mims (Johnathon Schaech) and his team of officers and we have a list of suspects, each with something to hide and gain. Then there is a rather tawdry subplot in which the military is shown to be less than honorable as if this somehow makes the crime palatable or acceptable.
Marauders throws in so much exposition and weighs down the plot with excessive characters that don’t do much of anything for the story, that the pacing is terrible. Willis seems to falling into the same category as Samuel L. Jackson, Morgan Freeman and Nicolas Cage; anything for a dollar. These are all fine actors but why they feel the need to do films like this, is beyond me. I guess money is money, as long as it is earned justly. But Marauders as well as Triple 9 have such potential to be good thrillers and it is squandered on dull and uninteresting characters and an overstuffed plot that sputters along. Meloni’s fury does keep Marauders interesting up to a point and Mims has a rather sweet but sad relationship with his wife who is dying of cancer. The relationship between Mims and his wife is well written and beautifully acted. It is one of the bright spots of this film. Scriptwriters Michael Cody and Chris Siverston navigate the details of the police world well and have an eye for the characters, but director Steven C. Miller has a very hard job of keeping all of the characters and subplots worthy of our attention. By the end of this film, I just gave up. But, composer Ryan Dodson, who has scored almost all of Miller’s films, does provide a solid electronic score that fits well with the picture.
As in the case of Triple 9, Marauders is not an awful film, just overstuffed. It never allows the characters to venture into uncharted territory, emotionally and as a result the film, as is the case with Triple 9, suffers. They are not without certain elements that do work, but when there is so much out there that is better than either of these two films, why not spare yourself and watch Michael Mann’s classic Heat, instead.
Marauders – **1/2 out of Five
Marauders – Rated R for harsh language, violence and gore
Marauders – Run Time is 107 minutes
Marauders is not playing in select cities and is available On Demand.