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Bruce Willis and Christopher Meloni carry otherwise routine thriller 'Marauders'

Bruce Willis and Christopher Meloni carry otherwise routine thriller 'Marauders'
Christopher Meloni, left, and Bruce Willis star in the movie "Marauders." (Brian Douglas / Lionsgate Premiere)

Bruce Willis is making some curious career choices lately, spending almost as much time on glorified cameos in low-budget thrillers as starring in blockbusters. But Willis' workaholism benefits "Marauders," an otherwise plain action picture carried by strong performances and a mildly compelling mystery.

Willis plays Hubert, the owner of a powerful bank headquartered in Cincinnati. When multiple branches are hit by violent heists, FBI agents (played by Christopher Meloni, Dave Bautista and Adrian Grenier) investigate to see whether Hubert was involved, but they meet resistance from a local police detective (Johnathon Schaech), who may have an agenda of his own.

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The open question of who's robbing whom and why makes for a fairly decent hook, keeping "Marauders" genuinely involving for a good chunk of its running time. Screenwriter Michael Cody doesn't have especially flavorful dialogue, but his story takes a few more unexpected turns than these kinds of movies usually do.

Veteran B-movie helmer Steven C. Miller keeps the action crisp, if a bit slow-paced. The lack of any inventive set pieces, though — even in the armed robbery sequences — is a significant hindrance, making this film little more than a passably diverting genre piece.

Still, "Marauders" would be even more forgettable without its cast. When Meloni and Willis are cocking eyebrows at each other and having layered conversations about H.P. Lovecraft and the nature of evil, it's easy to understand why movie stars get paid.

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'Marauders'

MPAA rating: R, for strong violence, language, brief drug use and nudity

Running time: 1 hour, 47 minutes

Playing: Laemmle Music Hall, Beverly Hills

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