Category (Why Georgia Doubled as Canada in Josh Duhamel’s Bank Robber Drama ‘Bandit’)

Why Georgia Doubled as Canada in Josh Duhamel’s Bank Robber Drama ‘Bandit’

Toronto and Vancouver routinely double as New York City, Chicago and other American cities in Hollywood movies and TV series that tap generous tax credits and currency savings when shot in Canada.

But in what Canadian director Allan Ungar claims is a first, he had to re-create 1980s Ottawa, Vancouver, Toronto, Winnipeg and Edmonton in modern-day Georgia to shoot his bank robber drama Bandit, which stars Josh DuhamelElisha CuthbertMel Gibson and Néstor Carbonell.

“In certain parts of the U.S., people are very patriotic. And so it was very bizarre for some of the locals to be walking down Main Street and see Canadian flags everywhere,” Ungar tells The Hollywood Reporter ahead of Bandit getting a theatrical release on around 100 North American screens starting this Friday.

Ungar had originally been set to shoot in Canada his true-life movie about American Gilbert Galvan Jr., played by Duhamel, who escaped from a Michigan prison and crossed the border in 1985 to assume a new identity and rob, in all, 59 Canadian banks and jewelry stores as part of a cross-country crime spree.

Because Galvan Jr. would often rob a bank at one of end of Canada and quickly board a plane to be home the same evening, he became known as the “The Flying Bandit.”

“This guy literally racked up 160,000 Aeroplan miles and used those points to fly himself first class around Canada, robbing banks in pretty much every province. It’s just a wild story,” the Bandit director explains.

It was the COVID-19 pandemic, however, with its requirement that Hollywood actors quarantine for 14 days before stepping onto a Canadian film set, that made luring American talent across the border to work on Bandit impractical.

“It’s a really hard sell to convince actors to come to Canada during a time when they’d be spending more time quarantining in a hotel room than actually working on set,” Ungar recalls. So the producers on Bandit, Goldrush Entertainment and Yale Productions, shifted production to Georgia, where the local film tax credit was itself a draw, along with welcoming locals.

Except for wary bank workers, it turns out. “Nothing is more awkward than walking into a bank on a location scout and having the managers listen to you talking about all the ways you could rob that bank,” Ungar recounts.

To allow Duhamel to play Canada’s John Dillinger, the movie’s producers relied on banks in the Peach State that had been shut down, or built bank teller wickets and safe deposit box areas in a film studio. And for exteriors, Ungar embraced tight camera shots and computer generated removal of modern-day buildings to get a Canadian look in rural Georgia.

“Ultimately, it came down to know exactly what we needed in each scene and saying, ‘If this is going to be a street corner, we need the Canadian mailbox, a couple Canadian flags and some really polite extras saying sorry a lot,’” the director jokes about the American stereotype that Canadians are especially apologetic to avoid conflict.

That and classic Southern hospitality allowed Georgia to double as Canadian city centers in Bandit. “It’s Canada with a Southern drawl,” Ungar adds.

Bandit is also getting a simultaneous on-demand release via Quiver Distribution on Friday.

Read the full article on The Hollywood Reporter.

‘Bandit’ Review: Josh Duhamel Steals the Show as a Legendary Canadian Bank Robber

“Bandit” may be, as it proudly declares up front, based on a true story. But it’s hard to believe the titular antihero was quite as charming as the guy playing him.

Josh Duhamel is Robert Whiteman — or, technically, Gilbert Galvan Jr., as he’s known before he escapes a Michigan jail and flees to Ontario in 1985. He becomes Whiteman when he buys a homeless man’s ID, so he can get a job selling ice cream. But when he’s fired, he needs a new gig fast. Unfortunately, even in Canada it’s tough to find work as a wanted convict.

So Robert starts looking around for ways to make some easy money. Actually, make that fast money. Canadian banks, he learns while robbing them, have very little security, and he’s in and out in minutes. But it’s definitely work, what with the careful planning, the costumes and prosthetics, and the inevitably complicated getaways. 

Before he makes enough for regular rent payments, he crashes at a church shelter run by social worker Andrea (Elisha Cuthbert). Initially, he tells her he’s working for his dad. Then, when they get serious and she finds the stacks of cash, he promises he only wants to earn enough to buy a little bar in the Bahamas. She believes him every time because, well, she’s the kind of person who works in a church shelter. But we see the glint in Robert’s eye from his very first heist, when he flirts with the teller, and she flirts right back. He’s in it for life, and that means he needs to level up.

In comes Tommy Kay (Mel Gibson), the neighborhood heavy. Tommy owns a seedy strip bar, but he really keeps himself busy as Ontario’s biggest fence. Even as Andrea gets pregnant and sets up their home, her fiancé is flying around Canada robbing banks and casing jewelry stores.

Everyone seems to fall pretty hard for Robert, who is now known across the country as the Flying Bandit, given his penchant for dropping in on a new city, politely relieving a local establishment of its cash, and making it back home by dinner. That he captivates so many of his victims is only understandable because he’s played with so much elan by Duhamel.

Detective Snydes (Nestor Carbonell), who’s been trying unsuccessfully to bust Tommy for years, is more resistant to Robert’s charms. As he looks for yet another way to take Tommy down, he notices that Robert seems to come and go from the bar pretty often. From there, it’s only a matter of time: either Snydes will finally get his bust, or Robert will humiliate him for good.

Canadian director Allan Ungar (“Gridlocked”) and screenwriter Kraig Wenman (adapting a book by Robert Knuckle) are as enamored of Robert as everyone else. Wenman mimics his playfulness with amusing interjections to the audience, assuring us that “this really happened” at particularly preposterous moments. Ungar, who co-edited with Michael Lane, tries to replicate Robert’s energy with mostly snappy pacing, though the movie is about 30 minutes longer than it needs to be.

Like Robert, who times everything out to the second, Ungar should have been in and out before we realized what’s hit us. Instead, things slow down when we spend too much time with the side characters. Gibson is sour and indifferent, and Cuthbert has nothing more to do than play a generic supportive spouse.

But Carbonell — who, like Duhamel, brings fizz to his every role — doesn’t disappoint. When the story bounces between Snydes and Robert, it feels as though the two of them are tossing a ball back and forth.

Robert’s costumes are a little too outlandish, but the ’80s set design is pretty strong, especially considering the film was shot (with Atlanta serving as Canada) during the pandemic. And music supervisor Cody Partridge has put together an aptly dynamic soundtrack, from the opening warning of Trooper’s “Raise a Little Hell” to the best use of Yello since “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.”

Ultimately, though, it all comes down to Duhamel. For a brief, heady moment, the real Galvan had all of Canada intrigued by his exploits. But the greatest coup of all is that his legacy will now forever be defined by “Bandit.”

Read the full article on TheWrap.

‘Bandit’ Trailer Shows Josh Duhamel as an Unstoppable Canadian Bank Robber

Collider can exclusively unveil the trailer for Bandit, a new film from Allan Ungar based on the true story of Canada’s infamous Flying Bandit with inspiration from Robert Knuckle and Ed Arnold‘s novel The Flying BanditJosh Duhamel leads the film as the titular bank robber, who after escaping from prison and crossing the border from the U.S. to Canada, goes on to become one of the most infamous criminals in Canadian history. When the charming outlaw falls in love with a caring social worker named Andrea (Elisha Cuthbert), he decides to start robbing banks in order to give her the lifestyle he dreams of — it doesn’t hurt that he happens to be incredibly good at it.

The real Flying Bandit, aka Gilbert Galvan Jr. or Robert Whiteman to those who knew him, was notorious for escaping prison in Michigan, starting a new life in Canada, and proceeding to successfully rob 59 consecutive banks, setting the record for most robberies committed in a row in Canada. The trailer immediately makes it clear how skilled he is at robberies, getting in and out of a bank within three minutes with stolen cash in hand. Duhamel effortlessly switches through disguises and slips in and out of banks like it’s nothing, an impressive feat to Tommy K. (Mel Gibson), a man with “a doctor’s thesis in street” who Duhamel’s Galvan goes to for an investment.

Everything gets harder when he meets the woman of his dreams. They hit it off, and he showers her with gifts through his ill-gotten gains as they look to spend the rest of their lives together. He continues his string of heists in the background, but each job draws more attention from the cops. A search for the mysterious criminal is underway led by detective John Snydes (Nestor Carbonell), but Galvan Jr’s myriad disguises and meticulous planning keep everyone duped. His relationship means avoiding arrest is all the more important, but when an unprecedented job comes in, he has to do “just one more,” a notion that almost never leads to anything good.

Bandit is Ungar’s third feature film, though he’s especially notable for a short Uncharted fan film that starred Nathan Fillion as the globe-trotting adventurer Nathan Drake and Stephen Lang as his veteran explorer pal Sully. He described resonating with Bandit immediately, saying in a statement:

“Having grown up as a filmmaker in Toronto, I always wanted to find bold and audacious stories to tell that also incorporated some sense of “home.” As I set out on my first directorial efforts, I chose projects that would allow me to improve on skills I already began developing, but that would ultimately shape me into a credible director. However, in the back of my mind I still wanted the identity of my films to have some connection to that “home.” With a country so rich in its history, I felt that it was only a matter of time before I would come across a story that had all the right elements to make a powerful and convincing film that people not only could relate to, but that they would go out and actually want to see. That’s how I felt about Bandit.”

– Allan Ungar

He also praised Kraig Wenman‘s screenplay for capturing the mix of humor, romance, action, and true crime involved in Galvan Jr’s story. The process of making Bandit was apparently difficult with the pandemic forcing a relocation to Georgia. Ungar detailed what went into recreating 1980s Vancouver for the film, adding:

“Now, with all this talk about country and home, here’s the best plot twist: due to the Covid-19 pandemic we were forced to relocate to Georgia. That’s right. Recreate 1980s Ottawa, Vancouver, Toronto, Winnipeg and Edmonton all in modern day Georgia. And so began one of the most difficult, but rewarding experiences of my career. The film challenged me in ways that I never thought were imaginable, but through trial by fire an immensely talented group of performers, crew, and craftspeople came together to make this special film. Blessed with an incredible cast, we worked tirelessly to bring Gilbert Galvan’s story to life with conviction and passion, and I truly believe it shows.”

– Allan Ungar

Bandit is set to arrive via Redbox Entertainment and Quiver Distribution in theaters and On Demand on September 23.

Toronto: First Look at Avan Jogia’s Directorial Debut ‘Door Mouse’

Hayley Law (RiverdaleAltered Carbon) is showing off her artistic skills in the first look photo of actor-turned-filmmaker Avan Jogia’s neo-noir thriller.

Law leads the cast as Mouse, a woman stuck in a dead-end job at Mama’s Burlesque Club all night, where her boss Mama (Famke Janssen) encourages her to pursue her real passion of making comics. When a friend from work named Doe-Eyes goes missing and the cops do nothing about it, Mouse and her sidekick Ugly (Keith Powers) take it upon themselves to find out what happened to her. Donal Logue (The Cloverfield Paradox) also stars.

Jogia made both his feature film writing and directing debut on the production, which recently wrapped shooting in Canada.

Kyle Mann produced the film via Independent Edge with Jason Ross Jallet for Cause and Effect Entertainment. JoBro Productions’ Jonathan Bronfman, Drive Films’ Michael Risley, Goldush Entertainment’s Eric Gozlan and Nathan Klingher executive produced.

Highland Film Group is handling worldwide rights out of the Toronto International Film Festival.

Read the full article on The Hollywood Reporter.