If you’ve lived in the Charlotte area for a long time, you may remember the $17 million Loomis Fargo heist of 1997.
And if you were aware that Hollywood was making a movie based on the infamous crime, you may have been thinking it’d be along the lines of “Fargo” or “Reservoir Dogs” – other darkly comic tales about crime gone awry.
The new trailer for “Masterminds” (aka “Loomis Fargo”) was released online Monday by Relativity Media, and the movie looks like a joke. Or, rather, a long string of jokes.
“A fortune is missing from a regional bank,” a female newscaster-ish voice announces, over stock footage of crime-scene tape, stacks of cash and bank vaults. “Police are calling it one of the largest cash heists ever on American soil. The estimated haul? $17 million. Authorities have no leads as to the identity of these criminal masterminds.”
The words “Based on a True Story” flash across the screen. Then the screen goes dark, and Wilkesboro-native actor Zach Galifianakis can be heard saying: “Let’s do it. Let’s rob Loomis Fargo.”
Cut to Galifianakis handling a firearm carelessly as co-star Kristen Wiig recoils. He slides the weapon into his rear waistband, and it discharges.
Wiig, with a Southern drawl: “I think that bullet just went straight between your cheeks.”
Galifianakis, in his best redneck accent: “Yeah, it feels like it just grazed my biscuits there, betwixt ’em.”
“Dumb and Dumber”-level buffoonery, slapstick comedy and outrageous action ensue for another 60 seconds. It almost feels like the product of a “Saturday Night Live” skit that someone decided to turn into a feature film.
Then again, as former Observer columnist Tommy Tomlinson wrote in March 1998, “There is no polite way to say this: These folks are not exactly the brightest bulbs in the chandelier.”
After Loomis Fargo armored car driver David Scott Ghantt hijacked the money in October 1997, he and his accomplices proceeded to do pretty much everything the “How to Pull Off a Bank Robbery” handbook tells you not to do.
“They drove around Gaston County in new cars and trucks, buying a house and a furniture store, wearing Rolexes and diamond rings, making bank deposits with the Loomis Fargo straps still wrapped around the bundles of bills,” Tomlinson wrote.
When all was said and done, an FBI criminal investigation helped put 16 defendants in prison and led to the recovery of more than 95 percent of the cash.
In “Masterminds,” Galifianakis (best known for “The Hangover” movies) plays Ghantt, Wiig (“Bridesmaids”) plays fellow Loomis Fargo employee Kelly Campbell, and Owen Wilson is Steve Chambers, who possibly drew the most attention of investigators by flaunting his new wealth in jaw-dropping fashion. The movie was directed by Jared Hess (“Napoleon Dynamite”).
Though most of the true-life tale took place in the Charlotte area, the movie was filmed primarily in Asheville and its surrounding areas last summer.
“Masterminds” is due in theaters Aug. 7.