Band of Robbers is a modernization of Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Silly and slight, Band of Robbers captures the basic sense of adventure of the original material and translates it to the present day, where the protagonists are far more reckless than Twain’s creations.
Writer-directors Aaron and Adam Nee begin the story of two young boys having fun and looking to escape. They are like any kids, imaginative and easily bored, traveling to where their minds take them no matter the consequences. Fast-forward to present day and Huck Finn (Kyle Gallner) is being released from jail. He never really left his wild side and continues to find himself in trouble with the law. Tom Sawyer (Adam Nee) is now a cop – and a remarkably terrible one at that.
Huck and Tom become reacquainted upon Huck’s release. They throw back a few beers with their friends Joe (Matthew Gray Gubler) and Ben (Hannibal Buress) to celebrate the whole gang being back together. It doesn’t take long for the group of guys to cook up a ridiculous plan, which they think they have planned out.
Since Tom and Huck where kids, a large sum of hidden gold has eluded them. Tom – the office of the law, remember – devises a plan to rob a pawnshop, where they are certain the treasure is stashed. On the day of the robbery, Tom is assigned a new partner, Becky (Melissa Benoist), which throws everything off. Determined to complete this one last adventure from their childhood, Tom insists the plan moves forward.
It seems Tom and Huck haven’t learned much from their childhood. Their actions always ended up getting them in some kind of trouble. The staged pawnshop robbery sets off a calamitous chain of events, which find people hunted and wanted for dead. When will these thrill-seeking, treasure-hunting ne’er-do-wells learn?
Band of Robbers more or less has a preordained outcome but at a brisk 95 minutes, it features enough manic energy from the performers and the Nee Brothers’ script that’s entertaining. The Nee Brothers have made a film that tries to introduce – or hopefully reintroduce – Twain’s classic work in a modern and more accessible fashion. It’s a small film, one that is likely to get lost, but a worthy diversion.
At its core, Band of Robbers is a tale of friendship and Gallner and Adam Nee have a lively back and forth that makes it feel like they have been friends forever. Between Huck being in jail and Tom being a cop (I can’t stress enough that he is a terrible cop; how did he even make the force?), time got between these two friends, who quickly find what bonded them once as kids. Band of Robbers doesn’t shy away from the trials of friendship, the separation that occurs with age but the shared history that makes two people forever friends. It adds a nice layer to a rather thin movie.
Verdict: 3 out of 5
Band of Robbers uses Mark Twain’s classic story as a blueprint. From there, it makes a wild, quick and silly modernization about two friends trying to find long-lost treasure. It’s not substantial cinema but it is entertaining.