Marauders opens on a very professionally done bank robbery that leaves one person dead. FBI agent Montgomery (Christopher Meloni) is assigned to investigate the case. The evidence bizarrely points to a disgraced soldier reportedly dead in an encounter years ago. He also discovers a connection to businessman Hubert (Bruce Willis), who owns the banks that have been targeted, and seems to be involved in some shady business. As Montgomery digs deeper into the case, he and his team are torn between simply upholding the law and pursuing true justice.
There is a lot more at play here as well. There is a crooked cop with a terminally ill wife who is suddenly growing a conscience as he investigates the case. There is a connection to an up-and-coming politician who is apparently being blackmailed. There is the fact that the robbers don’t really seem too interested in the money that they stole. And it doesn’t really amount to much. The film is a collection of empty twists and turns masquerading as a treatise on crime and criminality, its convolutions pointing to a theme that it can’t actually support.
The film’s point is pretty evident. It paints out a picture of the world where innocent people are caught up in the games of those with money and power. It then goes into the moral ambiguity of obtaining justice by all means necessary, those without power resorting to extrajudicial means to take down the corrupt elite. And this is all well and good, except the film isn’t nearly smart enough to really delve into these issues. The scenario it puts together feels overly convoluted, the vastness of the conspiracy failing to make these ideas resonate.
It just feels all the maneuvering done by the players in this film is too much trouble for too little gain. The secret event at the heart of this film involves a lot of elements that are practically science fiction. And there comes a point where the robbers are pretty much holding all the cards, but rather than use what they have to take down their target, they instead do pretty much nothing. Because this movie isn’t really about studying the complex consequences of going outside the law in order to get justice. It’s about stretching out a runtime with twist after twist.
To be completely fair to the film, it looks okay. There are more than a couple of weird directorial choices, but when the action starts it comes fast and furious. The robbery scenes are tense and expertly put together. The movie also gets a lot out of a very professional cast. Christopher Meloni offers a layered performance in a role that’s written to be pretty one-note. Dave Bautista, playing what could be an expendable heavy, brings a lot of surprising soul to the role. Bruce Willis pretty much sleeps through this role, but he still brings plenty of his movie star swagger.
Marauders is one of those films that feels like it was built backwards. It has a basic truth that it wants to show, then it proceeds to bury it under a succession of contrivances and convolutions. In the process, the simple ideas at the heart of the story become much more difficult to appreciate. The cast works hard to make the movie coherent, but in the end, their efforts are futile. The story just doesn’t make any sense, and it ends at a point that seems to undo the tiny sliver of a theme that it might have had.
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