Ever dreamt of never having money worries again, to have so much disposable money that you could live the luxury life? Well, Buster Edwards (Phil Collins) has. A long term ‘lucky’ thief, Buster has, for the most-part, always managed to escape the grips of the law. With a baby on the way Buster recognises the need for a more stable income and so, when he comes across an opportunity that could result in a financial windfall, he grabs it. Based on the events surrounding the 1963 Great Train Robbery, Buster injects comedy into one of the biggest robberies of the twentieth century whilst exploring the personal consequences of crime.
Co-starring (a much younger-looking) Larry Lamb and Julie Walters (as Buster’s wife June), the film deals with its subject matter lightly. The fear of the police catching up with Buster and his co-conspirators is there, but fails to feel extremely threatening and, as the police draw nearer, you may find yourself mildly irritated with their cumbersome meddling rather than feel your pulse racing in trepidation for the criminals’ safety.
The benefits Buster and June reap from his involvement in the scandalous robbery are long overdue but they soon begin to suffer from the drawbacks of having everything you’ve ever wanted. Although a clichéd moral, the film ultimately highlights the idea that money cannot buy happiness, surmounting in June breaking down in an expensive restaurant while she yearns for the simpler comforts of home.
Through the portrayal of the police’s chase for the thieves, Buster also makes a statement on the inherent corruption of the political system which is telling of the period in which it was released (the 80’s of course being the Thatcher years).
Phil Collins’ Buster is easy to empathise with and, although Collins’ acting CV is limited, is played well. He also features on the soundtrack with Two Hearts and a Groovy Kind of Love while he penned Goin’ Loco Down in Acapulco, performed here by The Four Tops.
Best performance: Walter’s June.