Starring: Zach Galifianakis, Kristen Wiig, Owen Wilson
Director: Jared Hess
Running Time: 95 mins
Masterminds is an American film about the true story of the Loomis Fargo robbery, where one of the largest bank heists in US history was carried out by a lowly security driver, resulting in an international investigation to retrieve the money, while the perpetrators bicker over their involvement in the crime.
We see a lot of dramas and thrillers based on true stories, so it’s often a nice break to see a film take a true story and put a comedic spin on it, offering up a different atmosphere from what the genre normally shows. Unfortunately, Masterminds is an exception to that rule, proving both an unfunny and uninteresting watch from beginning to end, failing to capitalise on what could have been an entertaining crime story, and instead just going for what feels like little more than a stupid and generic Hollywood comedy.
What frustrated me most about this film, however, was that it didn’t feel like it was telling a true story. Of course, some elements of the truth are changed up a little for dramatic and/or comedic purposes, but throughout, I wasn’t even sure whether the events being played out were based on a true story, such was the stupidity and idiotic nature of the film’s comedy. As a result, my interest in the story was significantly diminished, representing a huge missed opportunity for the film to grab you with its story.
In comparison to a film like War Dogs, which combines its excellent comedy with a bit of seriousness and dramatic storytelling to reinforce the real-life nature of its plot, Masterminds fails on all accounts to achieve this, and even though the content of the story itself is actually rather interesting, the way it’s written – surrounded by stupid comedy everywhere you look – means that there’s no reason to take it at all seriously, which was a real shame to see.
Moving onto the comedy itself, which is also really poor. Although I didn’t find anything about the humour in any way offensive or particularly irritating, Masterminds is a film which barrages with alleged ‘jokes’ from beginning to end, yet sees each and every one of them fall flat on their face, making for an incredibly dull watch.
Although there’s some energy from a couple of performers (Jason Sudeikis in particular), the majority of the A-list cast also fail to make up for the lack of comedic ingenuity throughout the film, with Zach Galifianakis doing pretty much nothing of interest in the main role, Owen Wilson sitting back in a very dull supporting role, and Kristen Wiig putting in a particularly unlikable turn as one of the major accomplices to the crime, all of which made me even less willing to enjoy the film.
It’s clear that the filmmakers wanted Masterminds to be a simple, farcical comedy, which is entirely fair, but in order to be just that, you need good, funny humour on a consistent basis throughout. Unfortunately, this film really lacks in that regard, while it disappointingly fails to capitalise on any hope for its interesting true story to bring some intrigue or drama to proceedings, making for a very boring watch overall, and that’s why I’m giving it a 5.8.