Updated: Jul 17, 2019
Marauders was a limited theatrical release for all the fancy people on the coast, but for us hillbilly midwestern folk, we had to wait until it was released on DVD. That being the case, I consider this to be straight-to-DVD. I saw the trailer before it came out and 2 things immediately intrigued me; 1: Guys in masks robbing banks. . . people, I guess. They were wearing masks. I couldn’t tell if they were guys or girls (SPOILER: They are all guys) and 2: Bruce Willis. Now, Bruce has been garbage for a good decade, but I still love him, so every time I see him in a new movie, I get excited and think, “This will be the movie where we get old Bruce back. He’s actually going to try in this one!”. . . I’m usually wrong. . . I was wrong about this one too.
Marauders starts off impressively enough with a pretty effective bank robbery scene. The assailants look badass and intimidating with their masks, the action is quick and intense, and, best of all, it’s mostly shaky cam free. In short, the beginning scene was awesome and I was immediately hooked!
Unfortunately, it went down hill. Much like Heist, the decline in quality had nothing to do with the acting. I was pleasantly surprised in that department. Christopher Meloni (Law & Order: SVU) is Montgomery, leader of the FBI group tasked with investigating the robberies, and he knocks the role out of the park. He is completely believable as an FBI agent and, more importantly, he is believable as someone who could be in charge of FBI agents. The movie lulled at times as it struggled through its too complicated plot, and too many twists, but I was never bored when Meloni was on the screen.
Dave Bautista played Stockwell, an agent working under Meloni. Again, much like Heist, Bautista’s character isn’t a typical action movie role like you would expect a former professional wrestler to play. His role largely an unphysical one. He simply plays an FBI agent and, to his credit he plays it well. With Bautista cast in the role, it could easily have been overblown and turned cartoonish, so kudos to the director, Scott Mann, and Bautista for keeping the character grounded in reality. Bautista, especially, does a great job of playing the character low key while still letting his charisma shine through by injecting some of the humor we know he is capable of (See Guardians of the Galaxy).
The main, glaring issue with Marauders is its plot. The writers seem to have mistaken complicated with smart. They believe the more complicated and muddled the storyline is, the “smarter” the plot is. It’s such a mess I’m not even sure how to simplify it, but I’ll try. A group of masked guys is robbing banks and the owner (Bruce Willis, coasting through another role with less than the minimum effort required) may or may not be involved. As the FBI investigates they uncover a possible conspiracy having to do with a rogue military group that, again, may or may not be connected to Bruce Willis and the bank robberies. There. . . I don’t know if that makes any sense to you guys, but that’s the best I can do.
The plot truly is disappointing because everything else (except Bruce Willis) is pretty damn good. The production value is exceptional (It’s rare that a movie with such a limited release looks so great). The action scenes, while unfortunately settling into more and more shaky cam as the movie progresses, are above average and suitably intense and, as I mentioned earlier, the acting is better than expected. The plot stalls the movie by continuously halting any momentum built up by the action scenes and some of the better dialogue scenes (some of which are exceptionally engaging). For every one of those scenes, however, we are forced to sit through a scene that only exists to explain what is going on and how all of the far too many puzzle pieces might connect.
Ultimately, Marauders is an enjoyable, above average straight-to-DVD thriller that is bogged down by too much plot and not enough momentum. I would recommend those who are fans of thrillers or suspense movies to give it a watch. My guess is you will be able to find enough positives about the movie, as I did, to enjoy the experience. Anybody looking to enjoy Bruce Willis in a movie. . . . watch something from the 90s. He lets us down yet again. I haven’t given up on ol’ Brucey yet (can you ever truly give up on true love?) but I’m coming dangerously close. I can’t stand to have my heart ripped out of my chest repeatedly like this, Bruce!! Can you please put forth some effort. . . just one more time for old times sake?