Stander


Cast: Deborah Kara Unger, Thomas Janes, Dexter Fletcher
Director: Bronwen Hughes
Certificate: SA 2004, Cert 15, rt 113 mins,

Stander is based on a true story and itís quite a remarkable one. During the Apartheid era, a young South African Policeman Andre Stander (Thomas Jane) being hotly groomed for the top Police jobs, breaks rank and tells his superiors, he wonít go on any more riot squad duties. He opts for this because on one, he kills a young black in cold blood and feels guilty about it. He is rapidly given the cold shoulder, in the police force, as such obstinacy is tantamount to treason.

Soon bored of the demoted desk job he gets given, Stander starts disguising himself and robbing banks and developing a liking for his new sideline (after all who in the 70ís would have suspected a serious bank robber would be a cop ?). Stander becomes a full-time thief and the film itself then develops into a cops-hunting-robbers thriller rather than anything to do with a man standing up against Apartheid, as was first thought.

Stander doesnít have everything his own way. He becomes incarcerated at one point but prison only introduces him to career criminals he can work with once he gets out. Deborah Kara Unger plays his long-suffering wife Bekkie.

Stander begins on the apartheid ticket and gave an interesting angle not often previously seen (since from the Police side). You imagine youíre then going to get a film about the apartheid system and the rise of the popular black vote under the ANC in bringing about change in the country but it then turns into a South African version of Heat in terms of being an urban-based cops and robbers chase involving big bank robberies etc which was an interesting and unexpected diversion. Being fast-paced it will suit a younger audience who like action in every scene in much the same way that Sin City will grab its punters.

The ending is also good Ė but of course I canít say why but its heavily ironic once you get to it. Thomas Jane is good in the lead role and the music suits the mood of the film, as does the period capture of the film Ė prepare for some fantastically garish 70's floral shirts for example!

Matt Arnoldi

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