The trailers for the upcoming In Time may have you believing that stars Justin Timberlake and Amanda Seyfried are stuck in one giant "there's no time!" chase sequence. You'd only be partially right. This couple of beautiful people are most definitely on the run, but with a greater purpose.
Every human on the planet, including the sprinting duo, is born with a ticking clock, an implant that acts as both their life's countdown clock and their wallet (in this world, time is currency). Nefarious circumstances force the duo to constantly search for a few more minutes, but the danger also inspires them to Robin Hood the rich (who have centuries worth of time on their clocks) and spread the wealth. Er, hours. They're bank robbers—and the newfound occupation elevates them to what is known in the movie world as "Bonnie and Clyde" status. Thanks to the lawless world of movies, two turn-of-the-century criminals have been immortalized, with Timberlake and Seyfried being the latest to keep the thieving dream alive.
Obviously, they aren't the first (but may be the most futuristic?). Here are a few examples of couples who make doing bad oh so good:
Pulp Fiction's Pumpkin and Honey Bunny
We don’t know a good deal about who “Pumpkin” and “Honey Bunny” are, or what brings them to the Hawthorne Grill that eventful morning. But aside from an offhanded remark about not particularly wanting to kill anybody, we can tell that the two of them are none too averse to a life of criminal activity (they might have undergone a change of heart after a run-in with Jules Winnfield, however). It seems the two are most amorous when they’re about to pull a job. In fact, it might be this life of crime that is, in fact, holding their love together. Thus, a more Bonnie and Clyde-esque pair you’d be hard-pressed to find.
Duplicity's Ray and Claire
Ray and Claire may be just as confused by one another's hazy allegiances as the audience watching this mind-bending romantic thriller. Throughout the movie, their relationship intertwines, doubles back and disintegrates over many years and many cooperate invasions. By the end, they're working together (or are they?!) to infiltrate and profit from their big business employers—but find themselves screwed by another unseen force. Thanks to Julia Roberts and Clive Owen's genuine chemistry, the only thing that doesn't feel like an espionage maneuver is the two's lust. But even then…
Fun with Dick and Jane's Dick and Jane
Dick and Jane Harper begin their cinematic adventures as your average married couple—their financially well-off, passionless, hardly the criminal type. Once Dick’s evil conglomerate lets most of its employees go, the two resort to robbery—ranging from quiet stickups at the ATM to the carefully-plotted takedown of Dick’s billionaire ex-employer—which, incidentally, ups the ante in their own personal zests for living. This simple suburban married couple, played by Jim Carrey and Téa Leoni, get a healthy dose of Bonnie and Clyde in Dean Parisot’s Fun with Dick and Jane.
Natural Born Killers' Mickey and Mallory
When it comes to couples who fuel their love life with crime, you’re bound to expect a little darkness. But even Bonnie and Clyde themselves would shudder at the activities of Mickey and Mallory Knox in Oliver Stone’s Natural Born Killers. From the moment of Mickey’s romantic—wait, no…horrifying—rescue of Mallory from her abusive parents, the two spend their life on the run from the law, committing murder after murder in the name of whatever they claim to believe in. It may be even beyond the wheelhouse of cinema’s most iconic criminal couple, but the roots of Mickey and Mallory are certainly planted in Bonnie and Clyde: they’re the bad guys. But they’re the bad guys together. So it’s kind of sweet—wait, no…horrifying.
Knight and Day's Roy and June
Roy and June may not pilfer the innocent, but they are a couple that spends a majority of their time on the run, firing guns amongst bystanders and escaping from sticky situations just in the nick of time. Sounds like a Bonnie & Clyde duo if there ever was one.
And they do do quite a bit of stealing: The secret agent and his blonde bombshell captive hunt, nab and protect a tiny trinket called the Zephyr, a never-ending battery capable of powering pretty much anything. The tricky part of their renegade romance is that neither really knows when one is going go backstab the other. Being a couple's a lot easier when both people have the same agenda, even if that agenda's robbing banks.
True Romance' Clarence and Alabama
Clarence and Alabama are guilty of plenty: prostitution, drug possession, murder, Sonny Chiba fandom. But their intentions are never quite criminal...it's all just a means to the truly romantic end of spending their lives together. Caught up in a runaway life, the couple portrayed by Christian Slater and Patricia Arquette in this Tony Scott film exemplify the downward spiral that is the Bonnie and Clyde lifestyle. At the beginning of the film, Clarence is a simple video store clerk—but his love for Alabama, and possibly impassioned sensibilities over this new life of danger, have launched him and his call girl soul mate into an inescapable life of crime.
Bonnie and Clyde's Bonnie and Clyde
We're certainly not going to compile a tribute to Bonnie and Clyde couples and not include the definitive Bonnie and Clyde. Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway inhabited the notorious crime couple and helped define the pair as symbols of counter culture. They were in love…but they also shot tommy guns and stole people's hard-earned cash. Back in 1967, Bonnie and Clyde shocked the nation. Now, anti-heroes are perfectly acceptable—to the point that Bonnie and Clyde may not even deserve the "anti" in their label!
Based on Ian McEwan’s equally stirring novel we begin the story in 1935 on the cusp of WWII. Briony Tallis (Saoirse Ronan) a 13-year-old fledgling writer lives with her wealthy family in their enormous English country mansion and on one hot summer day she irrevocably changes the course of three lives including her own. It seems the housekeeper’s son Robbie Turner (James McAvoy) carries a torch for Briony’s older sister Cecilia (Keira Knightley). And on this warm day it becomes clear she feels the same way; their love ignites. Little Briony who harbors her own secret crush on Robbie witnesses the beginnings of this love affair and not understanding its meaning feels compelled to interfere going so far as accusing Robbie of a crime he did not commit. He is arrested and whisked away eventually forced into the British army but thankfully the two lovers have a moment before he goes to war to reconnect. Cecilia promises to wait for him urging him to “come back” to her once the madness he is about to become immersed in is over. Meanwhile Briony (played in adult years by Romola Garai and Vanessa Redgrave) has grown up regretting every single moment of that fateful day and in desperately trying to seek forgiveness finally finds a path to understanding the power of enduring love. The performances in Atonement are nothing less than captivating beginning with the young Irish rose Saoirse Ronan (who is also set to play the lead in Peter Jackson’s The Lovely Bones). Since it is primarily Briony’s story Ronan must make the first most indelible impression and set the tone for the rest of the movie--and she succeeds on every level. From the moment you see Ronan’s pale face clear-blue eyes and steadfast gait you immediately recognize Briony’s need and determination to make everything in her life just so. Indeed Briony is a strongly focused child and Ronan so embodies the character an Oscar nomination is almost a certainty. As the 18-year-old Briony Garai (Dirty Dancing 2) does the best she can following such a tough act as Ronan but can never quite match the same intensity. On the other hand Redgrave who comes in at the very end as the much older Briony nails it right away adding her own nuances to a character who has lived a full life. Of course Knightley and McAvoy are no slouches either vividly capturing the passion bubbling up between Cecilia and Robbie then turning around and showing the heartache as their love is ripped apart. McAvoy is particularly effecting as his Robbie must also witness some truly horrific wartime scenes. Actually Oscar nods should come fast and furious for everyone in Atonement. With Pride & Prejudice and now Atonement director Joe Wright may have just established himself as the new James Ivory (of Merchant/Ivory fame). Wright is a real visionary for the romantic period piece expertly delivering truly spectacular vistas. From set design to costumes to cinematography the look of Atonement is at once verdant welcoming and then startlingly grim. The first half of Atonement at the Tallis’ country home is certainly the film’s most defining peppered by an effective musical score which uses the sound of a typewriter like a metronome. Through a soft lens Wright displays the general idleness of summer day at a country home like a sunny floral motif that belies an undercurrent of sweating bodies wilting flowers stagnant pools--and an imminent tragic event. Then once Wright moves with Robbie into WWII he actually paints an even more grim view of war then maybe seen before. The one continuous shot of the historical Dunkirk--a French beach on which thousands of British soldiers were forced by the Germans and then waited to be evacuated--is absolutely stunning and surreal. Atonement does drag ever-so-slightly in the middle especially as Briony trains to be a nurse in London but overall this is a film Academy voters eat up with a silver spoon. Expect to be hearing about it in the months to come.
Once respected NYPD detective Jack Mosley (Bruce Willis) is now pretty much on his last legs literally and figuratively. He drinks is relegated to a desk job and walks with a limp. One morning after a long shift he’s corralled into transporting a petty criminal Eddie Bunker (Mos Def) to the courthouse 16 blocks away so he can testify by 10:00 a.m. What Jack doesn’t know is that Eddie is one of the key witnesses in a case against crooked cops--that is until the two start getting shot at. Then it becomes crystal clear. The main bad guy Jack’s former partner Frank (David Morse) basically lets Jack know Eddie will never testify to just go ahead and hand him over but Frank underestimates Jack’s desire to finally do something good. So Jack and Eddie fight their way to the courthouse block by gut-wrenching block. Oh no there’s nothing formulaic about 16 Blocks not at all. In a film as predictable as this the only thing that’ll make it stand out is the performances. 16 Blocks nearly succeeds--but not quite. It would seem Willis is playing a character he’s played a hundred times before--the misunderstood and slightly unorthodox cop with a heart of gold. But as Jack the actor does a nice job trying out some new things namely playing fat bald and grizzled. You can almost smell how bad Jack’s breath has to be. Rapper/actor Mos Def who usually brightens any film he’s in also tries his hand at something different but his choices aren’t as smart. As the talkative and affable Eddie Mos comes up with one of the more annoying nasally accents ever recorded. After about five minutes of screen time you desperately want him to stop and say “Just kidding! I don’t really talk like this.” But he doesn’t. It’s too bad something like an accent can ruin an otherwise decent performance. Old-school director Richard Donner best known for his Lethal Weapons is a consummate professional when it comes to making these kind of movies. In other words he pretty much paints by numbers. We watch Jack and Eddie get out of one tight situation after another as the gaggle of bad cops try to gun them down. I mean 16 blocks doesn’t seem that far to go so they better throw in as many highly implausible obstacles as they can. Chinese laundries alleyways rooftops subways. And yes even a city bus which the pair--who have by now bonded big time--has to hijack. Donner also employs a popular but nonetheless annoying technique of zooming in when the action heats up so you can’t really see what’s going on. Even if you’re addicted to action movies--a Bruce Willis action movie no less--16 Blocks just doesn’t deliver the goods.