BRUCE Willis, once the world's most famous model for string vests and chin stubble, manages to rebound from the disaster of Unbreakable by emerging in a fairly charming road movie.
Middle-aged Casanova Joe (Willis) and his hypochondriac soul-mate Terry (Billy Bob Thornton) bust out of jail to embark on a megasuccessful crime spree.
The duo rob a succession of banks to finance a business idea they intend to bankroll south of the border.
In their wake, the double act - known in the media as The Sleepover Bandits - leave chaos, destruction and a public transfixed by their daring exploits.
Joe and Terry's plans hit the buffers when they run into Kate (Cate Blanchett), an unhappily married woman who hopes to join their gang in order to escape from her humdrum existence.
Joe and Terry vie for Kate's affections, and the cracks begin to appear in their once solid partnership.
On paper, Bandits really shouldn't work, juggling as it does elements of comedy, romance and thriller.
However, sound writing and more than adequate performances should manage to lift the material and win audience affection.
Willis trots out the same traits which have influenced his entire bigscreen career (which means you either love him or hate him), while Thornton creates another memorable eccentric.
The revelation here is Cate Blanchett, who proves her natural talent for comedy, blowing through the movie like a one-woman cyclone capable of reducing viewers to tears of laughter with her protrayal of a woman on the edge.
Even during her character's most frenzied moments - like dancing around the kitchen pretending to be Bonnie Tyler, or veering wildly through rush-hour traffic - she retains a sense of vulnerability, backed up by an incredible spirit.
The plot unfurls in flashback, beginning with the infamous bank job that ultimately seals Joe and Terry's fates, before replaying key moments from their rise to fame.
Despite the men's actions you desperately want them to escape the law, and find happiness with Kate.
The final five minutes yields up an emotional, unexpected and much appreciated kick.