Newton Boys [1998]

The Newton Boys were the most successful bank robbers in the history of the United States. They never killed anyone, never snitched, and only robbed banks (just bigger thieves, in their opinion), until their final deal, which was a botched train robbery for $3 million. Engagingly played by Matthew McConaughey, Ethan Hawke, Skeet Ulrich, and Vincent D'Onofrio, the Boys don't have the kind of flaws of more brutal criminals that make for more volatile dramas. The film ambles along in a leisurely way to tell its story of the Newtons' bank-robbing career, with an ever-present air of reverent Americana. This may make some viewers impatient, and cause a glow in others. It seems like a departure for director Richard Linklater (Slacker, Dazed and Confused)--a costumer to be sure, but Linklater's deliberately amiable pace perfectly balances the Boys' personalities. You may wander into this movie and feel right at home. The golden-hued cinematography of Peter James (Driving Miss Daisy) adds a level of comfort that makes everything warm-like. The end credits intercut archival footage of two of the real-life Newton boys toward the end of their lives, one from a 1980 appearance with Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show. --Jim Gay

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