Review By Bradley Smith
Eddie Dobson was an antique furniture dealer who, armed with only an unloaded starter pistol, robbed 64 banks over a nine month period in the early 1980s, including 6 banks in one day, to help pay off a loan shark and support his drug habit and luxurious lifestyle. The biopic Electric Slide attempts to capture this era of Dobson’s life in LA, showcasing the glitz and glam and trying to be as stylish as is aspired by Dobson.
In Electric Slide, Dobson is portrayed by Jim Sturgess (who was in another biopic that I recently reviewed, the equally forgettable Kidnapping Mr. Heineken). If he is supposed to look like an incompetent, drug addicted, wannabe bank robber, then Sturgess and the movie portray Dobson very well. However, this movie leaves you wondering how Dobson was able to successfully rob 64 banks and elude capture for nine months. He is not very confident, though he is able to muster enough charisma and charm to persuade the bank tellers to give him the money without drawing attention right away, and he makes numerous mistakes that would cause him to be immediately captured in today’s high-tech security world.
Opting for style over substance and character development, the film makes excellent use of visual and music cues. Everything about the movie feels very 80s-ish, from the clothes and cars to the computers and decorations, and even the music. As a period piece, it can provide an interesting examination of the 1980s. One noticeable absence from typical biopics is a closing explanation of what happened to the characters after the movie. If you had never heard of Eddie Dobson, as I had not, and you developed even the slightest interest in what happened to him, as I had, you would have to research elsewhere because the movie will not tell you he served ten years on a 14 year sentence and robbed another 8 banks a few years later before he met his end in 2003.
The cast is impressive, with the likes of Isabel Lucas as Dobson’s partner in crime, Patricia Arquette (fresh off an Oscar win for Boyhood), Chloe Sevigny (American Horror Story), Christopher Lambert (Highlander and Lord Rayden) as the loan shark who wants his money back from Dobson, and Kate Micucci (Garfunkel and Oats, Scrubs) as one of the bank tellers that Dobson robs (twice). But even the greatest actors can only do so much with subject matter that is based on real people, places, and events.
For some reason that escapes me, there is a countdown from 10-1 spliced in between segments of the film; the action and musical score will pick up and then it will just stop and a number will appear on screen leading to a new chapter in the story. It is a bit jarring and took me out of the movie more often than any other intentions that the filmmakers may have had in mind; somewhere between 7 and 5, I started viewing it as a countdown until the movie ended. It is not a bad movie; it just was not a particularly exciting movie.
In theaters and On Demand April 3.
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