The Artful Dodger
Buster Edwards was one of the gang who on the 8th August 1963 pulled off The Great Train Robbery a robbery which some may now be more familiar with because Ronnie Biggs was part of the gang. "Buster" the movie well I would be lying if I said it was about the robbery or about the drama which followed as Buster Edwards and his wife and daughter fled to Mexico. Oh it is all part of the movie but in truth "Buster" is more of a love story than a crime story because it is all about portraying Buster Edwards as a man who did things for love. And whilst it makes it entertaining with Phil Collins doing a fare job of making Buster a bit on an artful dodger it is not a great movie.
With another child on the way Buster Edwards (Phil Collins) is a bit of an artful dodger, he steals from Mothercare to get the stuff that his wife June (Julie Walters - Educating Rita) will need for the baby because he loves her and wants her to have what she wants, not that June wants much other than a home of their own. It is why Buster along with Bruce Reynolds (Larry Lamb) and a gang of small time thieves decide to rob the mail train carrying 2.6 million in used bank notes. And to their surprise the robbery goes well, but soon after the net closes in on them as their hideout is found and members of the gang being caught, with the judicial system looking to make examples of them. It leads to Bruce and his wife Franny (Stephanie Lawrence) as well as Buster and June fleeing the country and heading to Acapulco, but foreign living is too much for June who is homesick for Britain.
"Buster" is not the only movie made about The Great Train Robbery and my advice is that if you want a more accurate look at one of Britain's biggest robberies check out one of the other movies. The reason being is that whilst "Buster" gives us the gang planning the robbery, the actual robbery and what followed as Buster and June fled the country when they could no longer hide out it is not really a proper look at these events. In truth the focus is on Buster and his love for June, from stealing from Mothercare to get the stuff she needs for when the baby comes to his return to Britain in 1966 when June missed living in England too much. And whilst entertaining it is not really that good, in fact often it feels quite weak and flimsy.
But "Buster" is entertaining and much of that is down to Phil Collins. Now in fairness Collins' performance is a struggle, firstly he looks nothing like the real Buster Edwards and scenes which feature him kissing are awkward. But do you know what Collins' characterisation of a bit of an artful dodger with a big heart for his wife works and it makes Edwards a likeable man, even when the pressure gets to him and in a scene he snaps you still feel for him. Of course Collins contribution to the movie is more than just his performance and just hearing "A Groovy Kind of Love" or "Two Hearts" brought memories back of being a teenager with Collins' "Buster" soundtrack dominating the charts.
Aside from Phil Collins well Julie Walters does an equally nice job of playing June Edwards, maybe not authentically but making her likeable, a woman who just wants a normal home and family and some security. Watching June struggle when they flee to Acapulco is amusing but also says so much about the love she has for Buster, which reinforces the fact that "Buster" is really about a love story than a robbery. And alongside Collins and Walters is Larry Lamb who for anyone who has seen Larry Lamb act will say it is a very typical performance as Bruce Reynolds but an enjoyable one at that.
What this all boils down to is that "Buster" is entertaining, it is fun and charming and a bit of a nostalgic trip with the Phil Collins' soundtrack. But it isn't an authentic look at Buster Edwards or The Great Train Robbery but a love story about a man with a huge heart for his wife.