The Bank Job
Director: Roger Donaldson (Cocktail, Getaway, Dante's Peak, Thirteen Days, The Recruit, World's Fastest Indian)
Writers: Dick Clement, Ian La Frenais
Producers: Charles Roven, Steve Chasman
Starring: Jason Statham, Saffron Burrows, Stephen Campbell Moore, Daniel Mays, James Faulkner
MPAA Rating: R
Running time: 110 min
read my spoiler disclaimer

reviewed by Andrew James
      I really didn't have much of an idea of what to expect from Jason Statham and The Bank Job. I avoided the trailers and cast listing as much as I could. I enjoyed the sweet, retro-looking one-sheet (pictured above) and I knew it was about a - surprise surprise - bank robbery. So maybe I was expecting something along the lines of an Ocean's 11 rip-off with a bit of a Snatch feel for good measure. What I got was much grittier than Ocean's and a lot more serious than Snatch. Both of which is a good thing.

      Loosely based on true events, Jason Statham stars as Terry; a used car dealer who's in a little over his head with a local crime syndicate. He has to pay up "or else!" A solution presents itself in the way of Martine; an attractive and seductive thief from Terry's past, played by the very fetching Saffron Burrows. She convinces Statham and friends to rob a bank by breaking into the safe deposit box vault. While Statham looks at this as an opportunity to pay off debts and help his family live a better life, Martine has a secret agenda. She's been hired by the government to steal some photos from a very specific box that implicates some royal family members (and other figures of importance) in a sexual scandal before they're leaked to the public. There're a few deeper things going on that aren't worth going into here, but the story takes some interesting turns throughout; introducing and using several characters from all walks of social and political life.

      As I mentioned, if you're looking for a sassy, polished bank heist movie like Ocean's 11, you won't find it here. In fact, the bank heist itself accounts for only about half of the film. The other half is setting up all of the major players that comprse the film's plot in the beginning and the scheming, double-crossing that occurs throughout the final 45 minutes or so. It does take some time to get the ball rolling, but once we're well on the way with the actual bank robbery (about 35 minutes in), the pacing speeds up exponentially and doesn't really let up until the end.

      The ever thickening plot takes some interesting turns and has some genuinely harrowing, edge of your seat moments. I found myself almost as sweaty and fingernail-less as I did in 2006's The Departed. While I'm not comparing the two films in terms of quality or story line, I'm simply making the case that at points, The Bank Job is equally as gripping.

      Statham generally plays his usualy type-cast self. He's a bit more reserved and less of a tough guy in this film than in his previous efforts, although some of that does come shining through at a couple of key moments. What seems to work best are the several actors playing off of one another to make the heist slightly bungling and slightly amusing, but also experienced in their chemistry and crime-ridden past. The heist itself has a few close calls and from moment to moment the audience is captivated.

      Taking place in the fall of 1971, a lot of care had to be taken to give the movie that kind of style and feel. While the set direction didn't particularly interest me, the costuming and higher contrast film grade did interest me. At times a film maker can go overboard in attempting to recreate the look of an era - especially one in which many of us are personally familiar with. In The Bank Job, just the right mix of restraint and retro are used to create the era perfectly. It's obvious when we are immediately and it works perfectly.

      So while the story takes some time to set up and a little bit of concentration might be needed to keep track of all the characters, the movie really takes off in the final 2/3 and the time seemed to whiz by. Using mostly barely-a-name, British actors, American audiences likely won't spend much time in the cineplex on this one, which is a real shame, as I'm sure they'd be liking it quite a bit. Sure there're probably a few story holes and the real events aren't quite what they are made out to be here, but isn't that what the movies are for; to make life a fantasy and a little more exciting? I thought so. And The Bank Job certainly does that.

Click "play" to see the trailer:

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