'Electric Slide': Film Review

Electric Slide Still - H 2015

Electric Slide Still - H 2015

Serial bank robbery has never seemed so dull.

Tristan Patterson's '80s-set crime drama tells the true-life tale of the "Gentleman Bank Robber" Eddie Dodson.

Early on in Tristan Patterson's film about the true-life "Gentleman Bank Robber" Eddie Dodson, the protagonist is seen watching the film Breathless. Not the classic Jean-Luc Godard version, mind you, but rather the ill-conceived remake directed by Jim McBride starring Richard Gere. It's historically accurate, since Electric Slide is set in 1983, but it only emphasizes the hollow emptiness of this faux New Wave-style crime drama that placing style over substance to an enervating degree.

It's not that the source material is without promise. Dodson, a drug-addicted Los Angeles antique furniture dealer, had an impressive if brief criminal career, robbing 64 banks within a period of nine months — still a record. He was also known as the "New York Yankees Bandit" due to his habit of wearing the team's baseball cap during his criminal activities, but that's something the film leaves out, with the cinematic version listlessly played by Jim Sturgess, who's instead decked out in a fancy suit, fedora and a bright red flower in his lapel.

As the film would have it, Dodson was quite the ladies' man, balancing several lovers, here played by Chloe Sevigny and Patricia Arquette, the latter as a Beverly Hills socialite who barely minds when Eddie steals a vase after one of their dalliances. But his main squeeze is the beautiful if vacuous party girl Pauline (Isabel Lucas), who soon becomes his getaway driver.

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Deeply in hock to a menacing gangster (a virtually unrecognizable Christopher Lambert) due to his increasingly expensive drug habit, Eddie decides to take up bank robbing to pay his debts, although the money goes more to sustain his extravagantly hedonistic lifestyle.

Selecting only the cutest of female bank tellers, he charms them so much with his soft-spoken, flirtatious manner that they become virtual accomplices. Before fleeing with the money one of them has just handed over, he stops to turn around and ask, "Has anyone told you that you look just like Jackie Bisset?" He later whispers to another, 'You're perfect."

Featuring flashy sunbaked visuals, period-perfect costumes and sets, and a hip, '80s-infused pop soundtrack that features songs by the likes of the Psychedelic Furs, Depeche Mode and X — amusingly, the detective relentlessly pursuing him is played by the latter band's John Doe — the film never manages to achieve the dramatic tension or satiric social commentary to which it aspires.

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Patterson's slack direction is the chief culprit, although the miscast Sturgess' endlessly mannered, dull performance is no help. The gorgeous Lucas is equally ineffective, making her bombshell character even more blank than necessary.  

As shallow as the period in which it's set, Electric Slide is strictly low wattage.

Production: Di Bonaventura Pictures, Killer Films, Media House Capital, Myriad Pictures
Cast: Jim Sturgess, Isabel Lucas, Patricia Arquette, Christopher Lambert, Chloe Sevigny, Vinessa Shaw, John Doe
Director/screenwriter: Tristan Patterson
Producers: Kirk D'Amico, Hans Ritter, Christine Vachon
Executive producers: Lorenzo di Bonaventura, Eric Eisner, Aaron L. Gilbert, Ben Limberg, Bradford Simpson, Philip von Alvensleben, John Wells
Director of photography: Darran Tiernan
Production designer: Michael Grasley
Editor: John Paul Horstmann
Costume designer: Jennifer Johnson
Composer: Kevin Haskins
Casting: Angela Demo, Barbara J. McCarthy

Rated R, 95 min.