At first, Masterminds’ title feels accurate. It is, after all, a fictionalization of the largest cash heist in American history (the 1997 Loomis Fargo robbery in North Carolina). But once the movie has introduced viewers to its squad of criminals—bumbling armored car security guard David Ghantt (Zach Galifianakis), wannabe seductress Kelly Campbell (Kristen Wiig), and crew leader Steve Chambers (Owen Wilson)—it begins to feel a little ironic. These idiots basically stumble their way into a huge heist and then immediately spend it on an ostentatious mansion and fleet of custom trucks. Nobody’s the “master” of anything here.
The movie itself follows this attitude. The plot is relatively thin: The gang gets together, pulls off the heist, and then start turning on each other as the cops close in. Thankfully, though, the stacked cast provides enough energy to fill out the movie, and what Masterminds lacks in sharp one-liners it more than makes up for in ridiculous slapstick. Galifianakis’ Ghantt, for instance, is all knobby knees, constantly tripping over himself on his way to pulling off a legendary robbery. Although Wiig is technically his love interest, he finds his perfect comedic match in Kate McKinnon playing his equally strange fiancée. At one point, the two participate in a pre-wedding photo shoot, and it’s just one hilarious pose after another, complete with angel costumes and compromising positions. Add in Leslie Jones’ determined FBI agent, and the movie actually contains three out of four Ghostbusters, and even throws two of them into a violent altercation at a shopping mall. Jason Sudeikis’ passionate assassin doesn’t make a ton of sense as a believable character, but Sudeikis imbues him with enough manic intensity to float the film’s second act.
Masterminds has been “coming soon” for so long it would put Batman v Superman to shame, but the end result is an entertaining comic thriller with physical showcases for many of Saturday Night Live’s best recent veterans. B