Smash and Grab: The Story of the Pink Panthers Screen 7 articles

Smash and Grab: The Story of the Pink Panthers

2013

Smash and Grab: The Story of the Pink Panthers Poster
  • Smash & Grab aims to replicate the mesmeric tension of a Michael Mann thriller (the crime-cinema impresario is even explicitly referenced by one of the cops assigned to hunt down the group), though the film is so all over the place stylistically that it often seems like several different movies cut together.

  • [The computer animation] is striking and yet winds up being the most problematic for the film, as it proves less a practical method of hiding its speakers’ identities than a means of not-so-subtly mythologizing them. That’s furthered by the fanciful depiction of one suave Panther chatting at the edge of a CGI-fictional beach, a representation that—like the dramatic angles used for another Panther’s onscreen time—turns him into a dashing, romantic figure.

  • Opening with a breathless scene of burglars looting a jewelry store amid a dizzying street celebration, the film threatens to rest on the "How to Steal Millions and Look Good Doing It" Hollywood veneer of a Steven Soderbergh Ocean's movie, with the shards of glass vaguely representing a fractured justice system that may never end up catching the thieves. But director Havana Marking takes the motif as far as it can go, eventually undermining the audience's preconceptions of glitzy showbiz capers.

  • In sketching out the story of the Serbian thievery ring of the title, named after the Inspector Clouseau movies, this unpretty but titillatingly informative film from Havana Marking essentially lets two criminals give a master class in high-stakes robbery.

  • A digression about the politics of their home turf in the former Yugoslavia is mostly a distraction from the Panthers’ precision and jaw dropping nerve. The characters are so flashy that you can cast the Hollywood adaptation in your head while you watch.

  • The director, rather too heavily laying on a techno score, supplements their stories with testimony from a Serbian reporter, Micena Miletic, and from detectives in Europe and Dubai, for whom putting the collar on any Panther qualifies as a badge of honor... The most interesting aspect of "Smash and Grab" is that the thieves, while not exactly repentant, are depicted as fallible and human.

  • Rather than merely blacking out faces and vocoding voices in the usual docu style, Marking has actors revoice the Panthers’ remarks, and represents her subjects onscreen as animated avatars drawn in a style that recalls Ari Folman’s “Waltz With Bashir.” It’s a canny move that lends “Smash and Grab” an unusual variety of visual textures and reminds us that there’s always a degree of artifice and manipulation at work in even the most seemingly transparent “nonfiction” filmmaking.