Band of Robbers full movie review - Band of Robbers: Sawyer and Finn Re-Imagined as Gangsters
This film opens with a quote from Mark Twain, "Persons attempting to find a motive in this narrative will be prosecuted; persons attempting to find a moral in it will be banished; persons attempting to find a plot in it will be shot.
" If the author of this script followed this advice and did not make a formulaic bandit adventurer plot for this feature, this would have been a much better film. Instead, the script writer attempted to write an alternative modern-day retelling of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn by rebirthing Tom as a police officer and Huck as a convict just leaving prison. Huck and a couple of other friends are roped into a robbery by Tom, but the whole thing goes horrifically wrong in what seems to be slapstick comedy before it descends into a dark tragedy. In this image below, the young Sawyer and Finn are starting their search for treasure. Huck has a bruise over his eye from his father beating him, and he allows Tom to drag him into criminal activities for which he is initially arrested as a juvenile because Tom supports him running away from his father to spend time in their fantasy world. If these two kids carried the rest of the movie, it might have turned out a lot better?
Fig. 15. Willem Miller as Young Tom Sawyer, left, and Gabriel Bateman as Young Huck Finn.
None of Twain's plot or moral is retained, and their adventures are equated with modern gangsters willing to kill for a few dollars. I never understand why films like this use known authors and character names in the public domain without even calling the film by the popularly known titles. From glancing at the title and the description, I had no idea this would be a mockery of Mark Twain. Some ideas expressed in Mark Twain's adventures are taken out of context, and see ridiculously out of place in this interpretation. Here is an example of a scene where Tom is trying to convince Huck to commit a bigger crime than the one they just barely pulled off. "We had an adventure, nobody got hurt, and we're all a few bucks rich, eh?" Tom says. "Thomas, the situation is, we put ourselves in danger again, for nothing," Huck replies. "We got some money." "There's no money! I gotta pay Horhay! I gotta give him thirty dollars. The driver. I'm barely going to break even on this." "All right. Well, you can be the one who gets the special coin then?" Tom stretches the coin out to Huck. Huck does not take it: "You know the woman I live with keeps telling me that I need to change. She says, if I don't change, I'm gonna end up in a bad place. Of course, I wish, I was already in a bad place." Chuckles. "She's trying to sell me on heaven, you know. She's tellin' me that all you do all day is you sit down, you play harp, you sing songs for all eternity. And I said to her, if that's the case, I better sweat it out in hell with my best friend, Tom Sawyer, than play the harp, and, and? with Moses. I'm not friends with Moses." Then he reverses his position and says that still he has to change because he just "got out of prison" and he doesn't want to go back. The switch is too abrupt. In Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Twain does indeed present a band of robbers but they are crooks that both Huck and Tom work to help to prevent from committing crimes. The youths are hunting for treasure, but stop short of committing crimes to find it, and if they stumble into doing the wrong things, like pretending to be dead, they usually right these wrongs because of moral and religious motivations. It certainly speaks to the modern age that in this re-imagining the villains and the heroes are united into anti-heroes and they are partially redeemed in the end without fully atoning for their very serious sins: murder, theft, armed assault, etc. So, this discussion about Moses and heaven feels hacked in
Fig. 16. Matthew Gray Gubler (left), Hannibal Buress (center), Kyle Gallner (right), and Adam Nee in front with the gun.
The whole film feels like a revenge fantasy by two students that flunked their exams on Mark Twain's novels and decided to re-write the stories to prove that what they imagined happened in the narrative was really the case.
Fig. 17. The treasure of gold coins.
The acting is also unconvincing, as it's unbelievable that Tom, despite being a police officer, is an illiterate idiot. I would fully support the portrayal of police officers in this light, but I think this would have had to be a tragedy rather than a comedy to pull this point off. This film is memorable, but disturbing for any serious literature readers. If you've never read Mark Twain, you should feel pretty good about it all, but I hope you will not base your high school quiz answers on this plot line.
Title: Band of Robbers Directed/ Written by: Aaron Nee, Adam Nee Stars: Kyle Gallner (Huck Finn), Adam Nee (Tom Sawyer), Matthew Gray Gubler (Joe Harper) Genre: Adventure; Comedy; Crime Rating: R Running Time: 95 min Release: 2015