Review: Bandit


It’s around 1985. Robert Whiteman (played with extraordinary brilliance by Josh Duhamel) walks into a bank and asks the teller for all her cash. She shoves several bundles over, but then Whiteman wonders, where is he going to put it all? He asks her if she has a bag. She provides a standard bank zipper bag wherein he stuffs the cash and finally, politely, leaves.

On the street, he hands someone his standout red jacket and hat and proceeds to a phone booth to call in the robbery several times, using different voices to describe the clothes he just gave away. By the time he’s done, the police have apprehended the innocent man to whom he gave his garments. Then he dons a red fez from a costume shop to join a scheduled Shriners’ march in progress.

Smooth, unassuming, dashing and handsome, Josh Duhamel plays a real-life Canadian bank-robber, Gilbert Galvan Jr. (also known as The Flying Bandit), with James Bond finesse and a Steve Martin kind of self-deprecating humor.

Galvan has the record of committing the most bank robberies in Canada. Within 33 months, he carried out 59 robberies of banks and jewelry stores across Canada, many times using Frequent Flyer Miles.

The film begins with Galvan’s escape in 1984 from a low-security prison in Michigan. He manages to get to Canada where he gets a job selling popsicles. Unbelievably, the charismatic bank robber, and narrator of this delightfully fascinating film, wins the heart of a darling, unsuspecting social worker (Elisha Cuthbert).

The major problem for Galvan, who goes by the name of Robert Whiteman, is that he is wanted for escaping prison. He cannot give his real name or identity papers. This leaves him with few options for legal employment. Not really wanting to continue his risky self-employment, he finds he has no choice.

At some point, he enlists the help of underground low-life loan shark Tommy Craig, who has been staked out by the police for some time for a series of suspected crimes. Surprisingly, Craig is played by none other than Mel Gibson! Though Gibson tries to give a nuanced performance, he is always overshadowed by Duhamel’s dazzlingly entertaining and charismatically clever presence.

This fun film opened in both the US and Canada on Sept. 23, 2022, and is available on digital platforms. During its first two week of release it was ranked No. 1 in sales. I’d say it was a good family film except that it has gratuitous female scenes in Mel Gibson’s stripper bar. Other than that, adults will have no trouble escaping reality in this entertaining true-life caper.


Directed by: Allan Ungar
Screenplay: Kraig Wenman based on “The Flying Bandit” by Robert Knuckle with Ed Arnold.
Cast: Josh Duhamel, Elisha Cuthbert, Nestor Carbonell and Mel Gibson
Genre: Drama
MPA Rating: R
Release: Sept. 23, 2022
Distributor: Quiver Distribution / Redbox Originals

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