After forming a jailhouse rock band, Luna (Jasmin Tabatabai), Emma (Katja Riemann), Angel (Nicolette Krebitz) and Marie (Jutta Hoffman) manage a highly convoluted breakout during a prison function at which they are to make their musical debut. Disbelief now having been successfully suspended, Bandits stumbles along as they literally become a band on the run. While eluding their pursuers, they manage a record deal, play a series of gigs, take a hostage and become the hottest band around. Seemingly within moments, their faces are posted all over the place and everyone is listening to their CD.

As their popularity grows and their pursuers draw closer, these four very different women learn that they must put their differences aside and work together and get along if they are to succeed. Tensions grow as various members of the band seduce their newly acquired American hostage/groupie. Subsequently, their escapes grow less and less likely; they even manage to get an entire traffic jam full of people to dance in a full-blown musical number to facilitate one of their more farfetched escapes.

The plot is about as likely as an average 'A-Team' episode, minus all that lovable Mr. T charisma. There are obvious implied parallels with The Beatles, a la Hard Day's Night carrying-on and even a final rooftop concert. It is left rather unclear what exactly is supposed to be interesting here. There is the difference in personality between the various characters and the commentary on fame and the media, but neither seems fully explored or wholly involving.

At its best, Bandits plays like a B-movie under a thinly veiled art-house facade. At its worst, it often resembles a sub-par student film. (Incidentally, director Katja von Garnier won the best student film Academy Award in 1994.) The most satisfying moments in the film happen when the band is playing music and nobody is talking. In fact, the film could easily be re-edited into two or three solid music-videos. Short of that, there is not much to see here.

--Thom Bennett