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Deeply affected by the indiscriminate killing he witnesses as white police officer in South Africa,Andres Stander (played by Tom Jane) makes a decision to defy the very system has has spent a lifetime enforcing. Turning his back on the law, he masterminds a series of audacious bank robberies and befriending outlaws Allan Heyl and Lee McCall goes on a cross-country robbing spree. Known only as the "Stander Gang," the three commit dozens of bank robberies - heists that grow increasingly bolderover time. In the eyes of the public, the gang's disrespect for authority makes them near-lengendary folk heroes. To the South African government, however, the former police officer is a cause of embarressment, and the Stander gang quickly becomes the most wanted men in the country.
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Top Customer Reviews
Now I say purports because there has been a bit of licence taken with his actual story, which was obviously a deliberate choice of the film makers, but if this whets your appetite then do check him out further. Portrayed as a frustrated Robin Hood sometimes, and a clear career criminal at others he appears to have been someone that was hard to define in any neat way.
The film though is really well made with great period detail and some fine performances and indeed accents – Thomas Jane as Stander shows what an impressive actor he can be and why he should get better gigs. Ably supported by Dexter Fletcher and Deborah Kara Unger as Stander’s wife Bekkie; this is for those who like a bit of a thriller and a bit of realism thrown into the mix – one I missed first time round and am glad I finally got to see it.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Stander (Tom Jane) is good at what he does, both as a cop and as a criminal, but his clever bank heists eventually result in his being jailed where he finds two partners (David O'Hara and Dexter Fletcher) to join him in escape and in one of the longest bank robbery sprees in the history of South Africa. Stander remains conflicted: he loves his new wife Bekkie (Deborah Kara Unger), he knows what he is doing is wrong, but the money is often shared with the blacks of Johannesburg, and he is driven to leave South Africa to eventually locate in Lauderdale, Florida. The eventual results of this man's career bring this film to a close in an action packed yet very soulful way.
The film, as written by Bima Stagg and directed by Bronwen Hughes, captures the atmosphere of the era in South Africa, and gives us a realistic look at the plight of the Africans in the Apartheid, offering insights to both sides of the conflict like few others have in film. He coaxes fine performances from his large cast of actors and extras, making this film less an action thriller than a character study of the enigmatic Andre Stander.
The true star of this film, a film that deserves far more attention than it has been given, is Tom Jane. Jane is a strong actor, able to take on language accents with the best of them, and able to make us understand the spectrum of personality in this fascinating character. There are many scenes in which he plays in full nudity, quite apropos to the story, but just an indication of his commitment to 'fleshing out' of his role. He is an actor to watch, an actor unafraid of tough roles in contrast to the showy Hollywood star parts. Grady Harp, December 2004
Though we know what he's doing is inherently wrong, one cannot not route for Stander as he and his gang become more and more daring and flamboyant with their bank heists.
The supporting cast is up to the challenge and Deborah Kara Unger gives a standout performance as Stander's much put-upon wife whom he never stops loving.
Rare is the film that combines such strong social and political commentary with rip-roaring action adventure. This is a truly remarkable effort from director Bronwyn Hughes who'd previously given us fluff like "Harriet the Spy" and the Ben Affleck challenged "Forces of Nature." If she makes more films like "Stander" - she could be collecting gold statuettes.
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