The Bank Job (2008)
The Bank Job (2008)

Genre: Crime Drama and Heist Running Time: 1 hr. 51 min.

Release Date: March 7th, 2008 MPAA Rating: R

Director: Roger Donaldson Actors: Jason Statham, Saffron Burrows, Stephen Campbell Moore, Daniel Mays, James Faulkner, Georgia Taylor, Peter Bowles, Hattie Morahan

 


 

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porting complex consequences for a relatively straightforward plot, “The Bank Job” remains intriguing throughout as each set-up leads to ever more suspenseful twists for the likeable group of ragtag antiheroes. Over-thorough character introductions cause a slower build in the early stages of the heist, but such complications likely arise from fewer liberties taken with the “based on a true story” events. The end result is a fascinating look at criminals, their equally corrupt counterparts on the opposite side of the law, and many a gray-area hoodlum, inextricably involved but with material to barter for a lesser degree of guilt.

It is 1971 in East London and a fateful bank robbery begins to take shape. In order to remove the threat of radical gangster Michael X (Peter De Jersey), government officials devise a plan to rob a bank on Baker Street and retrieve damning photographs from his possession. To keep the heist untraceable back to them, an independent group of thieves, led by car dealer Terry Leather (Jason Statham) and former model Martine Love (Saffron Burrows), are unwittingly thrown into a deadly battle against shady officials and London’s gangster underworld.

Jason Statham isn’t a typical leading man, yet ever since his roles in Guy Ritchie’s early films, he’s managed to keep coming back with bigger and better parts, primarily to throw around his martial arts expertise in blow-‘em-up actioners. However, it’s here in darker thrillers that he finds a sincerer presence, especially as a commoner (a scoundrel, but one with realistically human qualities). Each moral flaw creates a more believable underdog, and certainly one worth rooting for.

Adding to the characters is the unique language of the film, which is genuinely intriguing as it captures wonderfully wry British slang. “Cheeky sod,” “12-inch mutton dagger,” “a bit of bother,” “usual skullduggery,” and “things turning a-custard” are but a few of the verbal jousts and observations that pop up. Devoid of euphuisms, these apparently authentic words make the dialogue a particularly potent piece of the puzzle.

To slow things down a touch is an entire subplot about Michael X and his blackmailing of the British government, which is useful in its linking to other facts, but hardly necessary as filmed scenes in the movie. Photographs of a princess caught in an act of promiscuity are at the root of the extortion plot, which then goes on to include further damaging materials from Sonia Bern’s (Sharon Maughan) brothel – also of fictitiously historical importance, but equally expendable as footage. The 506 crew, which spills out the usual generic explanations of villains, could have summed up Michael X’s involvement in a briefing, while Bern’s entanglement could have been narrated through the details of the photos. There is marginal amusement to be found in these segments, but they essentially only work to drag out the film’s running time.

They say truth is stranger than fiction, and “The Bank Job” definitely falls into that category (or at least it serves as an effective example of fictional embellishments claiming to be actualities). Pimps, thieves, spies, and government officials all collide in a robbery gone right and then terribly, terribly wrong, persuading the inquisitive to ponder over how much (or how little) is fabricated for the sake of cinematic appeal. The robbery itself is merely the setup to an intricate conclusion, even though the film takes time to create plenty of suspense during the titular heist. When the credits roll and the insistence that “the names have been changed to protect the guilty” flashes onscreen, it becomes more obvious that entertainment value ranks higher than the naked truth.

– The Massie Twins

  • 8/10