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'Stander' **** 051805
The Work = ****
Essentially 'Stander' is based on the true story of the youngest captain in the South African police force who began robbing banks. He was so good and so arrogant that he would investigate many of his own robberies. Was he always thinking about a life of crime or did something cause him to change? I suppose no one will actually know for certain. For its part, the movie makes the argument that he had breakdown. Stander was a police captain in a time and place when it was not easy to be one, particularly if you did not share all of the government's views.
Apartheid was raging in South Africa and the almost entirely white police force often used brutal tactics to stop protests (Including the use of live ammo.) Andre became disillusioned with the racism and brutality. The film implies he snaps. He starts out slowly and then gains momentum robbing more and more sometimes doing multiple robberies in the same day. Hughes shoots the whole thing with a stylized color pallet reminiscent of Soddenberg's Traffic. What is surprising is how engaging the film is. A large part of that credit goes to Hughes who keeps the pace snappy and uses a pumping soundtrack to move the action along.
Jane as Andre is excellent. It is a terrible shame that he did not get more recognition because he is very good here. Jane is one of those actors that often pops up in films (most recently in the punisher,) that I don't necessarily enjoy. The funny thing is I always think he comes off well, usually rising above the material he is surrounded by. The rest of the cast is great too. They are a bunch of actors that are often relegated to supporting roles and/ or sometimes (like Jane) not so hot films that deserve a lot better. Unger especially is underrated.
If there is a weakness to the film it is in the ending. I won't give it away but I will say that it is just kind of blah. I think it comes from the problem of the film being a biopic of a man that few knew well. Andre became a sort of Robin Hood figure in his day but the truth is he kept what he took. His wife probably new him best but she committed suicide in the mid 90s. What's left is a film ending that I suspect Hughes didn't know exactly what she wanted it to say with.
DVD = ****
All together = ****
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