Finding Steve McQueen (2019)

Written for RAF News November 2020

A team of unpracticed criminals catch wind of where President Nixon might be stashing some illegal funds and plan a bank heist to seize what they believe deserves to be stolen.

Finding Steve McQueen Trailer Pulls Off a Presidential Bank Heist | Collider

This comedy caper is inoffensive and unremarkable, which is some feat considering it’s based on the United California Bank Robbery and set around the Watergate scandal. The choice to be light and frothy was intentional but it’s weightlessness and lack of story leave it without character, relying on it’s cast to keep us involved.

Unfortunately there lies another disappointment – Travis Fimmel’s Harry Barber is apparently infatuated with Steve McQueen, Bullitt poster on his wall and Mustang in his driveway. A few references are made now and again, some directly to camera, but they are a confusing distraction. With his blond coiffed hair, Harry does bare some physical semblance to the cinematic icon, though he is painted a dim-wit. This is a funny idea half executed: his idiocy is played as a punchline, but he often provides the ‘smarts’ that keep the story going. Fimmel lands in this limbo where he’s not fully able to commit to the slapstick required to pull attention from the underwhelming script.

Told in the form of flashbacks, Harry sits with girlfriend Molly Murphy (Rachael Taylor) in a diner confessing to his exploits – giving us a run down of the job, though we also see the side of the FBI detectives in pursuit, played by Forest Whitaker and Lily Rabe. The police procedural element is another wasted effort, seemingly included for the sake of it: never really adding threat or even comedy, padding out the story so that it looks, on the surface, to be a cat-and-mouse heist film.

By no means awful, Finding Steve McQueen ends up a pretty simple and shallow story, short of gags and imitating something like nostalgia but without the emotion.

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