The Bank Job
Now Showing at: most major theaters.
Review by: Larry Thomas
There’s something inherently appealing about European heist movies. They are generally tense, well written and acted, and have a degree of smoothness and intelligence about them. Films such as Riffifi, Topkapi, The Italian Job (the original 1968 version) and others have come to define this particular genre. And while The Bank Job is not quite in the same league as those classic films, considering what’s being thrown up on cinema screens lately, it’s extremely good.
Jason Statham got his start in a pair of Guy Ritchie films, but has of late drifted into shoot-em-up and martial arts action films. Here he plays a family man who loves his wife and kids, but is in financial trouble to a mobster over his failing classic car business. Along comes Saffron Burrows, an old flame and femme fatale in what used to be called the “Charlotte Rampling role,” to entice our hero and some of his mates into helping her out of, as she puts it, “a spot of bother.”
Unbeknownst to all concerned, they are being set up through the temptation of piles of money, to carry out a dirty deed for MI5, Britain’s version of the CIA, in which the agency can not afford to become involved. It’s nasty business, which reflects badly on the Royal Family.
It’s a simple plan for a heist, but then there would be no story if things didn’t start to go wrong. And that’s part of the charm of The Bank Job: the plan and the story. Australian director Roger Donaldson, best known for the Kevin Costner films No Way Out and Thirteen Days, has a way with constructing his films so they are taut and intriguing without being confusing. Donaldson lets the actors and the camera tell the story without resorting to a bag of cinematic tricks and wizardry. The story and screenplay are by Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais, who have done several films of this caliber in the 1960s, as well as a lot of British television… most notably Tracy Ullman’s well-regarded TV series for HBO. They are adept with clever dialogue and character development.
The cast other than Jason Statham, is virtually unknown on this side of the pond, but all are quite convincing in their roles, and do not convey the aura of being “movie stars” posing as real people.
Based on a true story of an actual robbery in 1971 London, The Bank Job has the look and feel of that era, although as with any film, a certain amount of dramatic license has probably been taken with the facts. And as with any good story, there’s a tinge of bittersweetness to the proceedings. The characters are flawed, some bad things happen, some good things happen… just like in real life.
The Bank Job, which on the surface appeared to be just another action flick, is, a “ripping yarn” that will keep you entertained for a couple of hours. And isn’t that what we go to the movies for most days.