> Volume 6 > Number 30


Bronwen Hughes

Thomas Jane
David O'Hara
Dexter Fletcher
Deborah Unger

Release: 6 Aug. 04



Bronwen Hughes, the woman who had a nice idea for the ending of Forces of Nature and then turned everything else in the film into a disaster, now takes aim at the social standings in South Africa circa 1976 with her true-crime film Stander. Telling of the Johannesburg detective who decided to start robbing banks because he thought he knew how to get away with it, the film turns from its early accusations of police brutality into a criminal adulation film. The connective wire, of course, is tenuous at best (saying that the brutality made Andre Stander into a crook fails to consider the thousands of other South African police in charge of violently ending protests in the black slums), and Hughes’ attempts to play the political reporter mostly come across as disingenuous (a final mention of Nelson Mandela is especially sickening).

Where Hughes should have spent most of her time was strengthening its sections on Stander after he went to prison, broke out, and started robbing banks again with two fellow escapees. But the ideas here are dry, drawing mostly from canonized works like GoodFellas and Bonnie and Clyde, foregoing any true impression of Stander’s real personality. Played by Thomas Jane while still in his The Punisher character, this is a man whose dynamics as cop-turned-bad could have been something at least decent. Instead, most of the film is like watching the Beastie Boys’ “Sabotage” music video taken deadly serious

©2004, David Perry,, 23 July 2004