“Marauders” (on Netflix now) is Sooooo Bad

The 2016 film Marauders, which is now available on Netflix and—as of 12/3/20—rated as #3, is horribly bad. As a bad movie junkie, I can say that this is not a movie which is so bad that it’s good, as though the aesthetic and moral continuum circled around so that the farther one goes in either direction, eventually the opposite is reached.

Marauders traffics in the desire for gunplay and moral turpitude, a combination that might allow it to be join the hallowed company of a film like Michael Mann’s 1995 film Heat. But that would be a mistake. Heat followed a crew of experienced bankrobbers and the police unit that pursued them, each led by Robert DeNiro’s Macauley and Al Pacino’s Hanna.

On its best day Marauders is not even a distant relative of Michael Mann's 1995 film Heat.
Michael Mann’s Heat (1995) features a stellar cast and great writing, neither of which can be found in Marauders

Whereas Marauders, directed by Steven C. Miller, finds itself helmed by Chris Meloni’s Montgomery and Bruce Willis’ Hubert. There is no resemblance. First off, neither Meloni nor Willis are known for being achieved thespians. Meloni is most well-known for his complicated and sympathetic character on the NBC procedural Law and Order: SVU. Bruce Willis was once an interesting and possibly talented actor, back when he was on Moonlighting, in Pulp Fiction, and at the heart of the Die Hard franchise. But instead of maturing like a fine wine, his ass turned to vinegar (as Ving Rhames’ Marsellus Wallace explained to him in Pulp Fiction). But to the credit of Meloni and Willis, even Pacino and Deniro couldn’t save this script.

The Marauders may be the crew of bankrobbers who perform three ostensible robberies that are in fact mostly for the sake of drawing attention to another crime, the murder of a group of Army Rangers for reasons that are not entirely clear (honestly, if you actually care then this reflects poorly on you). FBI agent Montgomery (Meloni) and his lessers (including Adrian Grenier and Dave Bautista—the former having no business in front of any camera and the latter too good for the script) investigate the robberies and eventually sense that things are more complicated than they should be.

Or as they put it in one scene, “now things are getting interesting.” But the truth is if you must say in your script that things are “getting interesting” more than once, it is highly unlikely that things are “interesting” at all. That phrase was unfortunately used at least two to three times.

Perhaps they meant “interesting” in the way the word is employed to describe artwork at a juried college art show. If so, that would have been accurate.

Perhaps “Marauders” refers to the unit of Army Rangers that was murdered … Honestly, who cares!

That latter story is eventually told at the end of the film as is revealed a person who had been presumed dead who was in fact alive. Again, no one cares because this story is so stupid.

Did I mention that Montgomery goes to a bar and orders a glass of wine for his dead wife, a wife who had apparently been an uncover agent discovered by the drug dealer Velasquez (Latino, naturally!) and had suffered her eyes being gouged out of her head while she was alive? He never drinks from the glass. When I heard this story about Montgomery’s wife I took a sharp blade from the butcher’s block and considered what violence I’d done to my own eyes and if similar punishment was merited.

Marauders' principal characters played Chris Meloni and Bruce Willis
Both Meloni and Willis were probably bored to tears filming this scene

“Marauders” Moments of Grace

  • Willis has some first “collection” books including H.P. Lovecraft’s At the Mountains of Madness.
  • Bautista’s Stockwell is beaten up by a rogue agent and some others. When found by Montgomery, who asks him if he is okay, he asks Montgomery if he is going to kiss him. Montgomery asks if Stockwell has a breath mint.
  • The nameless female agent who never seems to get to go to any crime scene with the big boys but basically uncovers the entire uninteresting plot.
  • The corrupt homicide detective Mims who realizes that Adrian Grenier’s character is one of the Marauders, confronts him and then begs that he tell his dying wife that he “died good.”
  • Mims’ wife having an apparent affair with another man.
  • Hubert (Willis) meeting a crowd of investors who he terrifies by talking about the brown recluse spider that is on the glass outside of the 13th floor window he’s staring out.
The Marauders of the Marvel crossover The Mutant Massacre

Marauders in The Mutant Massacre

It’s very possible I actually watched his movie because of the association of the name Marauders with a group of mutant killers in the crossover Marvel comic arc The Mutant Massacre, which appeared in the original Uncanny X-Men comic series and several other titles.

marauders 1 "Marauders" (on Netflix now) is Sooooo Bad

When this arc was published I was 13, a recent transplant to a small dying industrial city (it was the late 1980s, after all), and a subscriber to the Uncanny X-Men. What was exciting about this arc was the fact that actual characters were killed/died, which does not really happen very often in the Marvel Universe.

Did I mention that I was 13 at the time?

Care to know what other bad movies I’ve written about?