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Bank robber who stole the show

(3/5)
Bank robber who stole the show

The crime story of a unique robber is told without excessive exaggeration.



Film: How to Rob A Bank

Director: Stephen Robert Morse and Seth Porges

Cast: Jordan Burtchett, Tristan McKinnon, Kurt Ostlund, Gavin Langelo, Lesley Mirza and Scott Patey

Nonika Singh

He is charming and handsome, looks and lives like a Tarzan, of course on an extravagant tree house. While his identity in the real-life crime documentary is revealed early on, nothing about him or his lifestyle is a telltale. Who can tell he is the most-wanted prolific bank robber of Seattle? As ‘How To Rob A Bank’ recreates the story of a notorious bank robber known by the moniker ‘Hollywood Bandit’, you are tempted to applaud the sharp mind and the chutzpah with which he pulled off one heist after another. Indeed, heists are the most tantalising subject of many Hollywood films.

Back in time, in the early 1990s, Scott Scurlock was inspired by these films, especially ‘Point Break’, starring Patrick Swayze and Keanu Reeves. The hour-and-a-half documentary stitches together Scott’s daring and audacious robberies in which, surprisingly, he did not once pull the trigger. The only time he does fire a bullet… well, we won’t let the cat out of the bag. But we sure can tell you what others recall in the film. His presence in disguise evoked so much power and menace that officials in the bank even when he was out there in the vault all by himself had little option but to toe the line.

Though somewhere in the film we are told that his only co-star was a 9-mm handgun, he sure had accomplices, keeping guard from outside. One of them was Mark Biggins, with whom he pulled off the first near-amateurish robbery. In the film, his other partner-in-crime, Steve Meyers, too, puts the pieces together and lets us decode their robbery mode involving meticulous planning. Thanks to the inventive disguises, replete with prosthetics, the artist-turned-thief Steve creates, they do not get caught for the longest time.

Getting the real robbers Steve and Mark on board is easily one of the major triumphs of the documentary. Straight from the horses’ mouth, it gives you an insight into not just the modus operandi, but also the motives.

Apart from money, it’s clear that Scott began to enjoy the adrenaline rush. His attitude is writ on his cap: ‘DARE’.

Who Scott really was is further illuminated by his diary in which he writes, ‘My mind is like an undisciplined child that has gone wild.’ Apart from some videocam footage of Scott, the diary is almost a character here. The period of 1990s is in sync with why he, son of a religious preacher, wanted to beat the system. An anti-establishment sentiment was in the air, anti-corporate grunge songs were seething with angst. The city of Seattle itself was in throes of a transition ‘with pools of money coming in, Starbucks growing like gangbusters’. And dialogues from movies like ‘Point Break’ — ‘why be a servant to the law when you can master it’ — summed up the mood of many.

The ‘Hollywood Bandits’ started small, but as they moved towards vaults and the megabucks, they were no longer under the police radar. How the cops got to them is part of the thrill ride. Indeed, the documentary is no ‘Oceans 11’ or even close to the Spanish series ‘Money Heist’. But with animation board recreating the drama, archival footage, interviews of key players on both sides of the law, including FBI agent Shawn Johnson, ‘How To Rob A Bank’ does create an interesting arc. And though details are mostly factual, it races to the finishing line like a work of fiction and is pregnant with both tension and anticipation of the inevitable.

With the bandits ‘crossing the Rubicon’ and going in for the last hurrah, we know it has to be curtains for their (mis)adventures. Yet, we are invested in this crime story of a unique robber, told with a dash of humour, sans excessive exaggeration or unwarranted hero worship. Watch it to know that while real imitates reel, the consequences are not the same. Thus, ‘How To Rob A Bank’ gets inverted into a tale with a cautionary note.