Steve McQueen has been dead nearly 40 years, but never lost his charm over Hollywood. Now he’s making a minor big-screen comeback.

Early this month came the drama Chasing Bullitt, an indie biopic about the actor, including McQueen’s obsession with acquiring the iconic Ford Mustang GT 390 that he drove in his 1968 classic Bullitt.  Now there’s Finding Steve McQueen, a story not about the actor’s desires, but about a man who desired to be like the actor.

Based on a true story, McQueen weaves the tale of a gang of petty criminals from Youngstown, Ohio,who staged the then-largest bank heist in history. Part Ocean’s Eleven and part Quentin Tarantino, McQueen doesn’t quite measure up to either — but borrows enough make for a charming comedy.

Travis Fimmel (Vikings) stars as Harry Barber, the good-natured wheel man of the crew who fancies himself the Steve McQueen of the Midwest. He knows by heart McQueen’s movies, his rides, his on-screen loves and, most of all, the actor’s irresistible grin and cool head under pressure. Fimmel makes full use of his Vikings hiatus to show his mischievous side — and comedic chops. His resemblance to McQueen, not to mention the movie’s impressive stunt driving and a killer 1970’s rock soundtrack, give the film a subtle nostalgic rooting.

Directed by Mark Steven Johnson, who made his Hollywood splash by penning Grumpy Old MenMcQueen puts the Daredevil director back in his cinematic wheelhouse: oddball male bonding. The crew of misfit criminals wax on Tarantino-style about pop culture starlets while planning to take down a bank reportedly holding $30 million in illegal contributions and blackmail money from President  Nixon’s secret slush fund.

While the tip (reportedly from Jimmy Hoffa) turned out to be a bust, the gang did manage to steal $9 million from the California bank, sparking the largest FBI manhunt since John F. Kennedy’s assassination.

Much of movie hews closely to the real United California Bank burglary, which occurred during the Nixon Watergate scandal. The parallel storylines are a nice touch as the head of the crew, played by the wonderful William Fichtner, swears, from one criminal to another, that he’s going to make Nixon pay. And unlike the complexity of the casino heist in Ocean‘s, the simple plot of the Youngstown crew makes for wonderful juxtaposition. The boys rent a house next to the bank, walk openly with break-in gear, and even fly to California under their real names. The rental house was actually taken out under the name Steve McQueen.

And it’s there that McQueen hits fifth gear, when the men are planning the heist while marveling at palm trees and Southern California’s laid back beach lifestyle (which happens to be conducive to bank jobs, it turns out). Forest Whitaker plays savvy FBI Agent Howard Lambert, who leads the multi-state chase after the gang and has a grudging respect for the bunch. It’s the right touch for a film not interested in casting villains outside of Washington D.C.

Alas, it’s McQueen‘s love story that proves the gear that slips in the otherwise crisp screenplay, written by Ken Hixon and Keith Sharon. Rachael Taylor (Transformers) is a lovely romantic foil for Harry as Molly Murphy, and looks a lot like Faye Dunaway from Bonnie and Clyde (Molly’s favorite movie). But their meet-cute signals a bit-too-schmaltzy love affair, and Harry’s account of the robbery to Molly freights McQueen with some clunky exposition.

But it’s not enough to derail this lightweight pleasure. From classic cars to classic rock to classic Hollywood icons, Finding Steve McQueen isn’t the Bullitt of its day, but it gives viewers a run for their money.