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Title: Masterminds

Movie: :2stars:
Video: :4.5stars:
Audio: :4stars:
Extras: :1.5stars:

HTS Overall Score:71

You know when the phrase “based on a true story” comes up on the screen that there is really going to be VERY little “true” about the story that is unfolding. It’s just the nature of the beast. So, when I tell you that “Masterminds” has very little in common with the story of David Ghantt and his famous 17.3 million dollar armored car robbery you won’t be the slightest bit shocked. I was but a teenager back in 1997 when the original robbery went down, but I still remember it being all the rage back then. Back in the late nineties Loomis armored car division and Wells Fargo armored car division had just gone through a giant merge and created one of the biggest armored car companies in the world as a result. However, in 97 they suffered a series of setbacks that were related to internal theft. When most companies experience internal theft, they’re losing a few to a few hundred THOUSAND dollars in losses, but Loomis Fargo lost a bit more than that. Philip Johnson made off with a record breaking 18 million plus haul as an inside job, but was subsequently caught down in Mexico. The second came a short time later when David Ghantt and a sundry crew of petty thieves thought that a copycat robbery would be thing and made off with 17.3 million in funds, which the movie tries to expound upon here in comedic form.

Now, I can’t tell you how much of the situation is actually true, but from listening to the extras, where the REAL David Ghantt was used as a story and set consultant, I can say with a fair amount of certainty that what you’re seeing on screen isn’t exactly what happened. Sure Ghantt jacked 17.3 million in cash using his credentials, but the looney toons style of cartoon comedy (wherein David Ghantt is a complete and utter moron with dreams and aspirations of being a hero) just wasn’t exactly there. The real Ghantt has a rye and slightly caustic sense of humor that would have lent itself towards a wicked little comedy, but instead powers that be thought that a full-blown SNL style skit turned into a 95-minute film would work better (I’m sure you’re sensing my own caustic humor at this point).

David Ghantt (Zach Galifianakis) is your average run of the mill armored car driver at Loomis Fargo, but he’s a man of who dreams of being more than just a driver. His thoughts are up in the clouds, of being a hero who is held up at gunpoint and comes out ahead. Of being something more than a 40 year old loser who’s getting married to a life sucking woman (played by Kate McKinnon) and stuck at a dead end job where no one respects him. When ex Loomis employee Kelly Campbell (Kristen Wiig) approaches him about trying to steal from the company, David is a little reluctant. He’s a good guy at heart, but his twitterpeeted heart just can’t say no to the beautiful Kelly. Little does he know that Kelly is masterminded by two timing petty crook Steve Chambers (Owen Wilson), who is manipulating the love-struck driver into betraying his company for the false hope of running away to Mexico with Kelly and a cut of the money (something which was never even intended).

David goes along with the plan and pulls it off BEAUTIFULLY. Only he’s duped by Kelly and Steve and sent down to Mexico with a scant $20k and a promise that more will come later (yeah right). Only thing is that Steve has no intention of sharing that money and decides to sic the cops on David by letting them know where he is holed up at. However, the federal agents miss Ghantt in Mexico, leaving Steve desperate to seal the deal. Desperate enough to hire a hitman to go and ice the poor guy (played by Jason Sudekis). A plan that goes about as well as the rest of Chamber’s botched jobs and soon comes back to bite him in the butt when Ghantt gets ticked off and decides to take matters into his own hands.

“Masterminds” may be based upon a true story of robbery and dumb luck, but the movie is really just plain dumb (no luck included). There has been some huge behind the scenes issues with the release of the film, so much so that it was delayed almost 2 years from when the initial theatrical trailer came out. I remember a few years back seeing the trailer and then the movie just vanished into thin air, only to resurface on Blu-ray ages later. I couldn’t find much information, but it seems that multiple studios were squabbling over the rights and it got stuck in development hell for a while and finally Fox got the rights to issue it on home video at the very least. This horribly level of miscommunication and stumbling around in the dark translates to the screen as well, as “Masterminds” feels like an SNL skit that was just drug on for WAY too long. Interestingly enough it really feels that way for good reason. Half the cast is SNL members ranging from Kate McKinnon, Kristen Wiig, Leslie Jones and several more.

With such an award winning and funny cast I was really hoping for something more than what we got. Most of the cast are fine, but the script is meandering and the looney toons style of humor just gets old REAL fast. If you’re ever seen Zack Galifianakis act in a stupid comedy, then you know exactly what you’re going to get. Zack making a fool out of himself and just running around with a moronic look on his face. Wilson, Jones, McKinnon do solid jobs, but the only really funny character in the whole movie is Jason Sudekis as the hired hitman. I actually started cracking smiles and laughing whenever he was on screen, and he hams it up as a pedo mustache wearing sleazebag with a semblance of a heart.


Rated PG-13 for crude and sexual humor, some language and violence

Video :4.5stars:
I once again can’t find out what the master for this film was scanned at, or the exact cameras used, but it is most definitely a digital shoot, and a good looking one at that. Bright and shiny with cheery color saturation, “Masterminds” comes to Blu-ray with a magnificent looking image for us today. Shot originally in 1.85:1 the film is slightly cropped (or opened up) to 1.78:1 with an AVC encode. Fine detail is exception as you can see razor burn on Zach’s face and the individual blades of grass in the ditch where he stalls the armored car out in. the night time shots show excellent shadow detail and the contrast levels are balanced to perfection. Skin tones are given a very slight red push and the ruddy colors make for a solid look for the face. Overall I can’t really complain about the video encode, and it rightly stands as the best-done part of the entire package.

Audio :4stars:
“Mastermind” is blessed with a solid sounding 5.1 DTS-HD MA track that plays to the films strengths with ease. The movie isn’t exactly overflowing with surround activity or explosive action, but there are moments in the film where the more boisterous scenes bring out some pizazz in the back listening channels. There’s some solid LFE in the score and finale between David and Steve at his mansion, as well as the roar of the armored truck as it crashes through the building wall, but overall this is a fairly talky film that puts a lot more emphasis on dialog than surrounds or bass. The front channels are well tuned and dialog is front and center in ….well…. the center. Vocals are balanced well with the rest of the track’s ambiance and once again, the track doesn’t require a whole lot, but it does everything asked of it without complaining.

Extras :1.5stars:

• The Imperfect Crime
• Theatrical Trailer

Overall: :3.5stars:

You can tell that the SNL inspired cast really gave it their all (almost to the point of embarrassing desperation), but the stupid potty humor and fart jokes can only go so long before you put down the remote and say “ok, enough is enough” and find something else to watch. Humor is always a subjective thing, and I pride myself in liking stupid humor as much as I like black, rye or plain out there artistically speaking, comedy. However, “Masterminds” just wallows at the bottom of the barrel and I couldn’t even like the film as a guilty pleasure. The audio and the video are both great, but the extras are uber slim and nothing can make up for the train wreck that is the film itself. Personally, I’d just skip it unless you have a huge aching whole in your heart that can only be filled with what you saw in the trailer.

Additional Information:

Starring: Kristen Wiig, Zack Galifianakis, Kate McKinnon
Directed by: Jared Hess
Written by: Chris Bowman, Hubbel Palmer
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1
Studio: Fox
Rated: PG-13
Runtime: 95 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: January 31st, 2017

Buy Masterminds On Blu-ray at Amazon

Recommendation: Skip It

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