Available on digital download from 16th November Finding Steve McQueen is based on the true events of the biggest bank robbery in US history when an organised gang broke into the United California Bank in 1972 to steel an alleged $30 million from the President’s secret funds of illegal campaign contributions.
Harry Barber (Travis Fimmel) plays an average Joe factory worker, but with a penchant for stealing fast cars whilst going under the alias of Steve McQueen, named after his favourite actor and living legend at the time. He shares a similar passion for driving at high speeds and whilst the filming sequences draw comparisons with Bullitt there’s more of a Dukes of Hazard comedy element to them here.
He works at his uncle Enzo’s (William Fichtner) vending machine factory and his uncle receives a tip off about President Nixon’s questionable stash of money in a Californian bank which is too great a lure for him and so he masterminds a plan to steal it aided by his hometown mob that in real life included his brother James, brother-in-law Charles as well as his nephews Harry and his brother Tommy who is freshly back from Vietnam, making this quite the family heist.
The story is told retrospectively with Harry trying to explain exactly who he is to his girlfriend Molly (Rachael Taylor) as they sit in a cafe some 8 years after the event. The action chops back to the robbery and pieces together how they met, which brings a romantic touch to the story whilst acting as a useful narrative platform.
Detectives Howard Lambert (Forest Whitaker) and Sharon Price (Lily Rabe) are put in charge of the case and have a trail of clues to investigate, not least the massive hole blown through the roof of the bank and a pile of smashed deposit boxes. How the story unfolds has some genuinely astounding moments and the robbery is as sensational as any Ocean’s Eleven Hollywood story; one of several nostalgic movie references during the film.
In a way it plays like a strange testament to the audacity of organised gangs, their ingenuity and bravery as well as their stupidity. Overall it’s a fun heist movie based on real life events that doesn’t take itself too seriously, a sentimental look back at a crime with a weird kind of moral heart that actually started the biggest FBI manhunt ever known but if you’re waiting for Steve McQueen to show up you’ll be disappointed – although you will find a nice country and western soundtrack.
Film: Finding Steve McQueen
Run time: 1hr 31 min
Director: Mark Steven Johnson
Stars: Travis Fimmel, Rachael Taylor, William Fichtner, Forest Whitaker, Lily Rabe
Genre: Thriller / Crime