Robbery: Half-cooked heist film can't keep its eyes - or its plot - on the prize

By Liam Lacey

Rating: C

The first feature from Canadian writer-director Corey Stanton, Robbery  has a premise that’s a bit of an eye-roll.

Richie (Jeremy Ferdman), a kid with a hip haircut and bad-boy tattoos, owes a big gambling debt. To help resolve the problem, RIchie enlists his ex-con father, Frank (Art Hindle) who is in the early stages of dementia, to help him with some robberies.

Art Hindle is an ex-convict with dementia, advising his son (Jeremy Ferdman) on the finer points of criminality.

Art Hindle is an ex-convict with dementia, advising his son (Jeremy Ferdman) on the finer points of criminality.

The good news is that this isn’t a particularly sentimental drama of father-son reconciliation, and veteran actor Art Hindle’s performance, as the old man who tunes in and out of his surroundings, has an unusual kind of suspense. Otherwise, this is a over-complicated caper plot with some family issues.

Richie goes to a gamblers anonymous group to talk about his gambling addiction with a wise-beyond-her-surroundings therapist (Rachel Wilson). At one of these meetings, Richie meets Winona (Sera-Lys McArthur), a woman who works at a casino Jeremy used to frequent, and who comes across as a wild card.

Soon, Robbie starts stealing, following Frank’s strategic advice. But after a few minor successes, he runs afoul of the local casino dealer and drug boss played by Jennifer Dale in a campy cameo as an ailing pink-wrapped sadist with a terminal cough.

Somewhere around the two-thirds point in the movie, the tone shifts from downbeat-sardonic to violent and generic. There’s a plot switcheroo, and then another one, which don’t bear much careful scrutiny. All of this concludes with a lot of hairy thugs, and a mini-casino-heist that aims for comedy again.

Technically competent and decently acted, Robbery feels like a collection of scene ideas that need more time in the cooker. The core problem is fundamental: Within this collection of grifters, liars and monomaniacs, there’s not a character worth really caring about.

Robbery. Written and directed by Corey Stanton. Starring: Jeremy Ferdman, Art Hindle, Sera-Lys McArthur and Jennifer Dale. Robbery can be seen at the Imagine Carlton Cinema.