Based on the true story of the 1972 United California bank heist, this is an interesting look at one of the men involved, whose obsession with the titular Hollywood icon gets the best of him.
In 1972 Youngstown, Ohio, Harry Barber is a young man who has an obsession with Steve McQueen. Emulating his look, he goes as far as getting a 1969 GTO, a car similar to the one McQueen rides in the film “Bullitt”. Barber is part of a gang run by his uncle Enzo, who has plans to travel to Laguna Niguel, California to rob a bank that allegedly has money that belongs to President Nixon. After somewhat proving himself as a reliable asset to the team, Harry heads to California with his uncle’s gang and successfully robs the bank.
Upon his return, Harry opens a bar and runs into Molly Murphy, a woman whose estranged husband had died in an auto accident and she is expected to be at the funeral. Harry helps Molly and the two become romantically involved yet Harry uses the name “John Baker” when he introduces himself. Meanwhile, the FBI have been investigating the bank robbery in California and have had no leads or clues. However, when the gang pulls off another job in their hometown, the FBI notices similarities and begin to investigate the robberies. Will Harry be able to continue his blissful life with Molly or will his past finally catch up to him?
From the director of Daredevil and Ghost Rider comes this fact-based tale about a Steve McQueen-obsessed member of a bank heist gang. The United California heist of 1972 was the largest bank heist in the United States. Seeing the film from the point of view of the lead character of Harry brings a sense of realism to the film. However, what makes this stand out is that the film is more than a true story film. It is both a romance film combined with a laugh out loud comedy, notably when it comes to the chemistry of the gang members.
The film is told in a flashback as it begins in 1980 when Harry finally comes clean to his longtime love, Molly, about who he really is. Travis Fimmel, one of the top Australian actors today due to his iconic role in Vikings, is great as Harry. As the real-life Harry Barber, Fimmel even has a little bit of a resemblance to the iconic Hollywood star, which helps its meaning of the film’s title. Fellow Australian Rachael Taylor is great as Molly, the woman who becomes the love of Harry’s life. The two shows great chemistry together that builds up more as the film progresses, despite the present-day tension when Harry comes clean to Molly about the bank heist and the aftermath.
One of the highlights of the film is the comic chemistry of the gang. William Fichtner is truly one who makes any role work to perfection and as Enzo, the leader of the gang, his outbursts are hilarious to watch as well as the duo of Rhys Corio and Louis Lombardi, whose characters of Ray and Pauly tend to go at odds with each other in a comical fashion that just works well. It is clear that screenwriters Ken Hixon and Keith Sharon didn’t want to make this another straightforward true story drama about a bank heist. They knew it would need some sort of flair and the comedy is the flair that makes this film work, along with the romantic interludes of Harry and Molly.
Finding Steve McQueen is more than a film based on true events. It is a combination of true story, laugh out loud comedy, and a romance story that at its 91-minute running time is nothing short of watchable and fast-paced, all with some great car chases due to Harry’s obsession with the titular Hollywood icon.
WFG RATING: A-
Momentum Pictures presents an AMBI Group/Identity Films production in association with Paradox Pictures, Premiere Picture, and BondIt Media Capital. Director: Mark Steven Johnson. Producers: Juan Antonio Garcia Peredo, Andrea Iervolino, Anthony Mastromauro, Monika Bacardi, Alberto Bergueno, and Alexandra Kimi. Writers: Ken Hixon and Keith Sharon. Cinematography: Jose David Montero. Editing; Kathryn Himoff and Julia Juaniz.
Cast: Travis Fimmel, Rachael Taylor, William Fichtner, Lily Rabe, Forest Whitaker, Rhys Coiro, Louis Lombardi, Jake Weary, John Finn, Molly McQueen.
The film will be released in select theaters, VOD, and Digital HD on March 15.