Steven C. Miller’s Marauders abides by a formula we’ve seen countless times before, following every beat, and thriving in the tropes of the genre at hand. But it’s done so in such an affectionate way it’s hard to get too annoyed or frustrated by this endeavour – though believe me, it’s not easy.
The film begins with a bank heist, as a collective of nefarious, masked robbers undertake a brutal mission, stealing millions, and murdering a seemingly innocent bank manager in the process. FBI agent Montgomery (Christopher Meloni) is heading up the case, alongside his new partner Wells (Adrian Grenier) and the traditionalist, no-nonsense sidekick Stockwell (Dave Bautista) – only to find themselves drawn into a murky set of affairs posing far more questions than answers, somehow involving the shady businessman Hubert (Bruce Willis) who is connected to the crimes in that the supposed perpetrator is said to have been involved in the murder of his younger brother.
The aesthetic to this piece works well, as it’s always raining, enforcing the film noir elements that exist. The difference between classic films of this genre and this offering, however, is that in this title when the characters walk into a building their clothes are suddenly dry. It’s the small details. Meloni shines as the film’s hardened protagonist, an archetypal detective, an anti-hero, stoic, flawed and complete with a murky past – but vitally, somebody we always root for, and adhere fervently to his authority, that the actor undoubtedly demands. It helps that he’s coming up against a seemingly formidable collection of adversaries, and in a genre where the hero is only ever as strong as the villains, it makes all the difference.
Bautista, on the other hand, provides the light commentary, with contrived one-liners, ranging from, ‘what the hell is going on?’ to ‘this has got interesting’ all the way to, ‘I only know about the big tits’. He’s supposed to be sharing comedic moments, representing the viewer as he follows the investigation with a blissfully naïve eye. But that would suggest the viewer is as engaged with the story as he is, and sadly, that’s exactly where this picture falls short.