Another Heist Movie, Another Bank Job
- Thursday, July 17, 2008
DVD Release Date: July 15, 2008
Theatrical Release Date: March 7, 2008
Rating: R (for sexual content, violence, nudity and language)
Run Time: 110 min.
Director: Roger Donaldson
Actors: Jason Statham, Saffron Burrows, Stephen Campbell Moore, David Suchet, Keeley Hawes
Terry Leather (Jason Statham, Transporter, Snatch) is a London car dealer with a shady past—and some very overdue debts toward the friendly neighborhood loan shark. Enter Martine (Saffron Burrows, Klimt, Enigma), a drop-dead gorgeous model from Terry’s old days. Martine has information about a bank that will be open for several days, without security. It’s easy picking, and it’s the heist to end all heists.
Although Martine doesn’t say so, she is actually wrangling a deal for herself. Arrested for international drug trafficking, she is now being pressured by MI5, the British intelligence agency, to obtain the contents of a safety deposit box located in the bank’s vault. The box contains sexually-incriminating photos of a royal, which were taken by Michael X (Peter DeJersey), a Caribbean revolutionary who is now using them to further his goals in the UK.
The MI5 broker tells Martine that she and her friends can keep the contents of the other safe deposit boxes—and all charges will be dropped against her—if she will just bring them the envelope. Together with some pals, Martine and Terry tunnel into the bank and get the goods. To their surprise, however, the safe deposit boxes contain more than just money and jewels. And those contents have just thrust them all into the London underworld of crime, porn and corruption.
Loosely based on the 1971 bank robbery at Lloyd’s Bank in Marylebone, London, The Bank Job is directed by Australian Roger Donaldson (No Way Out, Thirteen Days) and written by Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais (Across the Universe, Flushed Away). It’s a heist movie, pure and simple, with some throwbacks to the ’70s, as symbolized by an early scene where a mechanic is turning back a car odometer.
The direction is crisp and moves the film along at a fair clip. The cinematography does its job, too. Likewise, the actors are decent, but not particularly remarkable. If there’s a problem, it’s with Stratham, who is known for his stunts—not his dialogue. He carries the role—barely—but seems out of place until the very end. There, he livens things up by doing what he’s good at, which is kicking people around. The scenes with his wife (Keeley Hawes), however, are poorly acted by both, especially Hawes. A shame, since they’re what the filmmakers use to humanize Terry.
The script makes a critical faux pas by giving us just enough information about Michael X—namely, that he’s a “crazy, dope-smoking, lunatic pimp extortionist”—to get us interested, then refuses to let us spend time with him. Instead of focusing on this evil-but-fascinating character, the plot stays with the criminals and a London porn king (David Suchet). Suchet is supposed to be menacing, but he’s almost comical—a strategic mistake, since so much of the film’s second half revolves around him. As for the other criminals, they’re poor-script versions of Ocean’s 11.
The story has a slightly disjointed feel, as if important scenes are being withheld from the audience. Editing may have been a factor, but there are also chronology issues, especially early on. Scenes jump back and forth in time, making them hard to follow. And, a peripheral but important plot point about a spy in X’s camp seems to have been underdeveloped by the writers.
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