Masterminds Review

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By Justin Jasso (@jjasso007)

 

Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction. The titanic crashed and sunk, no one expected that, right? How about Trump actually being elected as the Republican nominee? Bet no one foresaw that, unless your magic 8-ball said so! Or what about a bungling guy stealing $17.3 million dollars from a bank, over the curse of one night? Yeah, that happened too, in Charlotte, North Carolina back in 1997. A story of such “WTF”-ness will, obviously, be made into a Hollywood film at some point. Brought to us by Jared Hess, the man who gave the world Napolean Dynamite, we have the latest crime caper, Masterminds.

 

David Ghantt (Zach Galifianakis) , an armored truck driver for Loomis, Fargo & Company, has a little thing for his co-worker, Kelly (Kristen Wiig). So when Kelly approaches David about a possible bank heist, set up by an old high school friend of hers, Steve Chambers (Owen Wilson), it doesn’t take too much to convince David to participate. After minimal planning, Ghant loads $17.3 million dollars into his armored truck and escapes. The plan: give all the money to Steve and Kelly, while he takes $50,000 and heads to Mexico. Money will be wired to him to sustain his lifestyle until the heat dies down and, then, he can return to the United States and they’ll split the money equally. Unfortunately, things don’t go as planned, and promises aren’t necessarily kept, so threats are made, a hitman is contracted, the FBI gets involved and the one time “simple plan” is a wash. So, who will come out on top, or will they all just be sharing a top bunk in a Federal prison?

 

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Masterminds is both crime story drama and slap sticky comedy. The unfortunate thing is that it can’t decide which it wants to be more. On one end, you have a serious story about a real life even that took place, and you want to give it all the credit it deserves, and tell the story as honestly as possible. Then you have a cast including Galifianakis, Wiig, Wilson, Jason Sudeikis, Leslie Jones and Kate McKinnon, who all but says hilarious comedy. The reality is, it does have a few funny moments, and there are a couple nice story elements, but you leave the theater wishing there was more to be had. It’s like getting a great looking steak, and seeing that the entire bottom is just a thin layer of fat, so only have is edible. The story is at least somewhat entertaining, and interesting, in its own right, and some of the locations have a nice look to them, plus there are a couple very funny moments such as when David is getting out of the loading dock after filling the truck with money. Yet the story gets convoluted eventually, with so much going on, and not knowing some people’s motives, yet we can still guess what will happen in the end. Oh, and there is an excessive use of wigs and contact lenses, so be warned!

 

Galifianakis is the lead driver of this wacky ride, and plays the role of the in love idiot perfectly. Yet, this doesn’t feel like a difficult role for Galifianakis, as we’ve seen elements of his character in plenty of other performances from him to date. Wiig is the most troublesome, and yet she has a meatier role. The problem with her role is, we never know exactly where she stands, or what her motivation is. Maybe this was done on purpose to express humans when they catch the “feels” and no one can really read them. Owen Wilson is very one note and the leader of the heist gang with major green eye envy.  Jason Sudeikis is even more aloof as a hitman for hire, just not quite fitting the persona for the role, though he does have some great little moments. The rest of the cast have smaller roles, not really worth taking the time to analyze, but all due respect to the work they did!

 

 

Masterminds has good intentions at heart, but the problem is that everything is only done half-heartedly. Hess attempts to find that balance between drama and comedy, yet he never really develops the dramatic elements and doesn’t fully go all in with the comedic ones. Instead, a safe path is taken, trying to deliver a little of both and, because of that, we have a mixed review for the film. Did the story need to be told? Not necessarily. Does the cast make you want to see the film? Most likely. As does the trailer. Yet it just doesn’t live up to the hype. With movies like Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children  opening this week, and Deepwater Horizon, you may choose to watch one of them instead. Masterminds is funny, but not funny enough to be a success at the box office.

 

Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars


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