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In the early 1980's, a white police officer (Andres Stander, played by Thomas Jane) in Johannesburg suffers a crisis of conscience due to his involvement in apartheid and becomes a notorious bank robber on the run. Then from 1983 to 1984, the "Stander gang" (Stander, Alan Heyl & Patrick McCall) rob as many as four banks a day. Written by
The riot scenes were shot in Tembisa, where the real Andre Stander had been stationed on riot duty. The crew left most of the buildings as they were since they were old enough not to bear too many anachronisms. See more »
In the scene where the police stop him for running a red light, a key is seen in the ignition when Stander turned off the engine. In the previous scene, he had hot-wired the car to steal it. See more »
"If you're a white guy, you can get away with anything"
So speaks Andre Stander the day after a massive riot in Johannesburg South Africa in which Stander as a police captain finds himself killing a Zulu man in a morally shattering encounter. This utter disillusionment with the police force and their responses to the Apartheid situation makes Stander withdraw emotionally and physically from the Riot Squad and eventually his challenge that the blacks are unduly mistreated leads him to break the white laws by initiating a string of bank robberies - not for money but for a bizarre sort of revenge.
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
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