– Summary –
Director : Roger Donaldson
Cast : Jason Statham, David Suchet, Saffron Burrows, Stephen Campbell Moore, Daniel Mays, Alki David, James Faulkner, Michael Jibson, Richard Lintern, Peter De Jersey, Hattie Morahan, Colin Salmon, Peter Bowles.
Year Of Release : 2008
Length : 110 minutes
Synopsis: Based upon true events, Jason Statham leads a ripper British cast in this crime caper/thriller flick, about a group of amateur bank robbers who, upon breaking into a local banking establishment, get more than they bargained for, when they steal photos of an incriminating nature that are sought by various parties with a vested interest in their protection.
Review : A terrific yarn, this is Donaldson’s best work in ages, and a tense, exciting story to boot. A first class thriller.
Jason Statham stars in this true crime story about one of the largest bank robberies in history, including even the Great Train Robbery, in Roger Donaldson’s The Bank Job. Statham plays Terry Leather, a shonky car dealer who owes plenty of dosh to the local crime boss, and who is about to find himself kneecapped unless he hits a big, big payday. So, when his ex-girlfriend Martine (Saffron Burrows) shows up to offer him a job, he finds himself backed into a corner to take it pretty quickly. Martine, it seems, is working as a patsy for MI5, the British secret service agency, who are intent on recovering some images of a certain member of the royal family engaged in some… let’s say, activity of a highly sexual nature. The job, it seems, is to break into a highly secure bank vault and recover the photos (although the group of lads Terry cobbles together for the job only know they’ve got to steal plenty of cash and jewels, and are unaware of the MI5 connection) so a militant black leader, Michael X (no relation to Malcolm X) can be brought to justice.
However, when various nefarious crime identities become aware of the heist, and the potential scandal that could erupt from the publication of some of the stolen merchandise (and not just the royal photos, mind you!) then things take a pretty dramatic turn for the worse. And they get really, really bad. Statham, trying desperately to get everybody out of the situation alive, has to think fast, and act faster, if he’s going to avert a major catastrophe and ruin his life.
The Bank Job is based upon, as I mentioned earlier, true events, all backed up by evidence and the large writ of historical fact. The events themselves cannot be questioned, although the dramatic license taken with the characters and material events would warrant closer inspection. Roger Donaldson has crafted a taut, tense and solid re-enactment of the events of the Baker Street robbery of 1971, using a plethora of awesome British talent filling in some seedy, corrupt, and not-quite-so-bad elements of the London criminal underworld of the time. David Suchet plays local porn-king Lew Vogel, who has been paying off corrupt coppers for years to keep his establishment, a seedy strip joint, from going under. He’s one of the more obvious criminal elements in the film, and Suchet does a bang-up job portraying a man with almost no humanity left within him, such is the life he’s led.
However, the lions share of the dramatic narrative is kept aside for Statham’s Terry Leather, the leader and lynchpin of the bank robbers, who are, essentially, a bunch of amateurs. Statham again displays his film-star quality, making the most of his dramatic ability (limited, at best, let’s be honest) with a finely tuned performance that lends itself to the action-star status he’s enjoyed over the last few years. He’s neither awesomely developed as an actor, nor is he stone-cold wooden, but he’s clearly no match for the more seasoned campaigners in the film. Still, it’s a role that perfectly suits the one time footballer.
Saffron Burrows, perhaps more well-known in Australia for her shark-bait performance in Renny Harlin’s Deep Blue Sea, plays the femme-fatale role of the film to the hilt. Her sultry, seductive looks and attitude are the reason Terry gets into so much trouble, and when his wife gets wind of what’s been going down, she (as you’d expect) hit’s the roof. This underlying tension adds yet another dramatic angle to a storyline already filled with intrigue, twists, and double-crosses.
Where The Bank Job succeeds is it’s lack of audience pandering, the ability to simply play it straight and not dwell on the insanity of the plan the group devise to rob the bank, the various plotting by affected parties to obtain their stolen property, or even the tense, horrifying climax of the film due to one, simple moment of stupidity. The audience isn’t told everything, and for that reason, the film gets a fairly high mark from me. You have to guess as to what’s going on a fair portion of the time, and you always get the impression that nothing, or nobody, is what it seems. And it’s not. The film has not an ounce of narrative fat on it, the film moves at a cracking pace, with varying degrees of intensity as the story moves along. Donaldson keeps it fairly tight on the heist itself, although this isn’t the whole film; there’s a lengthy denouement and a large amount of set-up, all of which merely serve the story later as the plot unwinds, and we get to the juicy stuff.
It’s not often I use the term blockbuster to define a low-ish budget heist thriller, but The Bank Job perfectly suits that moniker. There’s no sly audience winks in this film, it’s balls-to-the-wall the whole way, and a thoroughly good film to boot. had there been some explosions, I doubt the film would have suffered all that much. But it’s the human element that makes this such a riveting story, and the fact that it actually happened (if not entirely like this, then definitely close to it!) serves to heighten the dramatic impetus.It’s not your traditional action film, by the way. It’s a lot more standardized in it’s style, camera angles are not flashy or overblown, there’s a sense of dignity and calm in the proceedings that belies the true tension the film engenders.
You’d go a long way to watch a film better than The Bank Job. Its a dependably sturdy, easily recommended film, and no matter your taste in films you’ll find something here to enjoy. Fantastic.
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