2004 - R - 82 Mins.
|Director: Bronwen Hughes
|Producer: Julia Verdin
|Written By: Bronwen Hughes
|Starring: Thomas Jane, Dexter Fletcher, Deborah Unger, Marius Weyers
|Review by: Joe Rickey
|Official Site: www.standerfilm.com/
The year is 1976 and the place Johannesburg, South Africa. The country is in a state of perpetual turmoil. The class division between the wealthy whites and the poverty-stricken black African citizens has erupted into a constant battle as over 25 years of apartheid rule has made for an unsafe country.
Thomas Jane begs the producers to keep the film from being released.
In steps Andre Stander, the chief of police whose main job is suppressing potential uprising by the poor citizens. Stander (Thomas Jane) though, finds himself unwilling to kill people he considers innocent; people just fighting for what they believe in. Instead, he does something he had once thought unthinkable: he walks into a bank and robs it in a state of dazed confusion. Not long after, Stander realizes that robbing the bank had given him a feeling of euphoria unlike anything he had experienced ever before. It is no surprise then that he continues to rob banks until he is eventually apprehended and sent to prison.
However, Stander organizes a successful prison break. Once free, he joins up with two fellow criminals and they continue robbing banks as a way of supporting an increasingly lavish lifestyle.
‘Stander’ had the potential to be a thrilling example of how a “based on true story” film can ably be told but it is not to be. Director Bronwen Hughes films the exploits of Andre Stander in a grainy, old-fashioned manner that gives the film the look and feel of a recently rediscovered documentary. The look seems appropriate but in reality, it all comes across as unnecessarily ugly and second-rate. Not helping matters is the purposefully chaotic camerawork applied by Hughes to further enforce the feel of a documentary. The problem with this particular technique is that, at times, one simply cannot see what is going on; making for anything but an entertaining experience. Hughes also struggles with the idea of establishing some sort of pace to the proceedings, instead giving the end result an almost episodic nature.
In the titular role, Thomas Jane, who brought a slow-burning anger to his Frank Castle character in ‘The Punisher’, fails in his attempt to bring the same exact attribute to Andre Stander. His Andre Stander is a bland, feeble anti-hero; the sort of man who so desperately attempts to induce a state of panic in his foes but instead brings mocking. He lacks the needed charisma to get across the idea that Stander is not just your run-of-the-mill bank robber but a legend whose name brings something akin to fear in the hearts of men.
Through his missteps, director Bronwen Hughes fails to make the viewer understand exactly why Andre Stander is considered a legend in his home country. Instead, ‘Stander’ comes off as an exceedingly ordinary telling of an extraordinary tale.