Group Stages – Round 1: Stander (RSA) vs. El Mariachi (MEX)

by Nicholas Robinson

The first half: “Stander” is based on the true story of André Stander (Thomas Jane), a South African homicide/robbery police captain who became one of the most notorious bank robbers in the country. After participating in the brutal killing in a riot in the line of duty, Stander decided to defy the very system he was part of, and set off on an audacious crime spree; robbing banks during his lunch hour then returning to the scene of the crime to lead the investigation. Finally, caught by the same police force he worked with, he was jailed and, subsequently befriended Allan Heyl (David O’Hara) and Lee McCall (Dexter Fletcher). After a daring jailbreak, the ‘Stander Gang’ committed a large number of robberies, which grew increasingly bold over time. In the eyes of the public, their blatant disregard for authority made them South Africa’s most popular anti-heroes. In reality, however, Stander and his gang were the most wanted men in the country. – IMDB.com

This movie was quite the entertainer.  It had a good story, good acting and was paced very well.  In biopics like this one, it is quite hard to find such a good story.  To explain what I mean let me ask you this, if you took away the truth to the story, how many biopics would actually stand on their own?  Not many, is the answer you are searching for.  However, with this movie, take away the truth and you get a well crafted story about friendship and robbing banks.  That is the mark of a good biopic.

As I said before, the acting in this movie was good.  Thomas Jane, Dexter Fletcher and David O’Hara all did quite well as the three members of the infamous “Stander Gang”.  Not only were their individual efforts good, but they had great chemistry and made you feel like they actually were a team.  A truly positive point about this biopic is that it never felt boring.  It never felt rushed either.  It moved through the timeline at the perfect pace.  It even added in some comedic moments to keep it that way such as when they robbed the same bank twice.

However, as with most movies, there is a downside too.  Stander’s best friend, Cor van Deventer (Ashley Taylor) could have been developed more as a character.  Stander was his best friend, but once he figured out that Stander was the bank robber, he seemed to be able to arrest him without much internal conflict.  This could have been explored more.  Also, his transformation from a respected police captain to bank robber was quite sudden but was dealt with pretty well.  For instance, his first score, he gave to one of the boys selling papers on the street curb and it wasn’t meant to profit himself in monetary terms but to “blow off some steam” as he said in the movie.

The guilt that started this entire nervous breakdown/crime spree of killing an unarmed man during a riot was not visited enough.  For the first thirty minutes, they did it very well with the picture in his desk draw of the man he killed being pulled out time and time again.  However, once he got arrested, they didn’t return to it until twenty minutes before the movie is over, and only for five minutes.  I do think they could have put in some more of that guilt so that we can see that the robbing of banks was not just for selfish reasons but to distract him from his quilt which I thought it started out as.

Overall this was a good movie that if you ever see it in the rental store or on TV, you should give a chance.

IMDB says 7.2/10

RT says 73%

I say 7.5/10

Click here to see the second half –>

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~ by sputnikreviews on August 8, 2010.

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