Friday, October 12, 2012

Somebody’s a film buff in FBI

I couldn’t help but be amused when I learned of the latest attempt at a cutesy nickname given to a criminal suspect, or in this case, suspects, by federal agents.

For we now have the “Nuns on the Run” robbers – two men who apparently wore masks and nun’s habits to try to disguise their identities when they robbed banks, including one in suburban Palos Heights.

NOT THAT IT did them much good. Two men are now in custody. One was arrested last year, and in theory is scheduled to go on trial next month.

But the other man, a resident of south suburban Markham, was not arrested until this week. He had his first appearance in U.S. District Court on Wednesday for the charges of bank robbery, and conspiracy to commit bank robbery that both men face.

Federal officials say that both suspects had previously worked for banks, and the man who was arrested last year had also been accused of embezzlement at his previous place of employment – a bank in suburban Country Club Hills.

For the record, federal officials dubbed them “Nuns on the Run” because they thought the masks used by the robbers looked just like costumes used in the 2010 film “The Town.”

NOT THAT I recall this particular film, which was directed by Ben Affleck and is adapted from the novel “Prince of Thieves.” Actor Jeremy Renner was actually nominated for an academy award (“best supporting actor”) for his performance.

Yes, I had to look those details up.

I’m sure someone out there will think I’ve been living in a cave for not knowing this right off the top of my head. But I wonder about the agent who made the connection between the bank surveillance camera footage of the robberies and this film?

Although I have to admit that my initial reaction was to think that some agent somewhere was really digging into obscure films to come up with a nickname.

BECAUSE MY FIRST thought would have been to think that somebody was remembering the 1990 film “Nuns on the Run.” That starred British actors Eric Idle and Robbie Coltrane as a pair of low-level gangsters who have millions of pounds of another gangster’s money and are trying to rip him off.

To cover themselves up and escape an attempt on their lives, they take cover in the first building they see – which turns out to be a convent.

Hence, we get the sight of Idle and Coltrane in nuns’ habits throughout much of the film (along with a final shot of them in flight attendant uniforms). Much of the “humor” of this film is based on how absurd the characters act and look while trying to pretend to be women – particularly Coltrane, who makes actors like John Belushi or Jack Black look like fine specimens of physical fitness.

Then again, I suppose expecting someone to remember back two decades for an obscure reference would be a bit much to ask – particularly since I’m starting to wonder about myself for being able to remember this particular film.

PERHAPS MY OWN brain would be better off if it weren’t clogged with so much trivial detail? Sometimes, I wonder if these nicknames they come up with are so obscure that real people aren’t meant to “get” them. They’re just supposed to sound off-the-wall, while making the suspects sound more bizarre than they truly are.

Because this particular bank robbery wasn’t all that eventful – insofar as armed robberies are concerned. As a reporter-type person, I have written about stranger stuff on many occasions.

And as for the men who now face federal charges? They’ll have quite a bit of time on their hands awaiting trial. Perhaps they ought to try watching Idle and Coltrane’s performance as criminals-turned-nuns.

They managed to escape, albeit without the money – which church officials found and decided to use to put toward charitable works.


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