Rated: R for sexual content, nudity, violence and language Reviewed by: Jim; Frank Release date: March 7, 2008 Released by: Lions Gate Films
There've been plenty of heist pictures out of Hollywood in recent years, with The Italian Job scoring more loot and hoots because of the slick interplay between the action, storyline, and characters.
One of the actors from F. Gary Gray's fun flick is Jason Statham who leads an abundant British cast in The Bank Job, based on true happenings in London back in the early 1970s.
This zigzagging, dense tale directed by Roger Donaldson, who has staged scandal, danger, and intrigue before in films like No Way Out and Thirteen Days utilizes thugs, criminals, bad cops, and government officials.
In September 1971, Statham's Terry finagles his way as a car dealer with a dodgy past. He's asked by ex-flame, successful model Martine (Saffron Burrows of Reign Over Me) to pilfer the safe deposit area of a London Baker Street bank.
This inveigling voluptuous lady, unbeknownst to Terry, is on the payroll for a government agent (Richard Lintern of Syriana) who is looking to uncover information on someone in the royal family. But, there are even more surprises for Terry and his friends (Stephen Campbell Moore of The History Boys, Daniel Mays of Atonement, and James Faulkner of Colour Me Kubrick). Hidden in those boxes are dire secrets linked to a Soho mobster (David Suchet), a madam (Sharon Maughan), and a rebel from Jamaica (Peter DeJersey).
For those who remember the incident, a UK Government 'D' Notice kept the media at bay with case unresolved concerning the disappearance of millions of pounds of cash and jewelry.
So, screenwriters Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais put much time into the wanton secrets and lies that may have occurred. The thorny schematic with characters, many of the rogue variety, does rely on coincidence of something this large in scope.
Though his approach is maybe too heady and solemn, Donaldson does charge the rather accelerated proceedings with attitude and crackling chauvanism. Like the darkly witty hitman film In Bruges the mood does become even more austere during the final reels. The director of The World's Fastest Indian has a way of making the characters generally pleasant company and realizing the accoutrements of the times with his production staff.
Ultimately, the caper's notoreity becomes too hastily rendered and absurd as is evidenced by the pugilistic climax. Statham (War, Crank, The Transporter) has some appeal as the lead, even opposite Terry's wife (Keeley Hawes). Yet, with all the cops, double-crossings, and low-lifes this Job conveniently takes him for all he's worth.
While on the surface The Bank Job appears to be a straight bank robbery at 185 Baker Street - I guess just down the street from Sherlock Holmes' 221 B Baker Street in London. It is, however, a bank job on top of a rescue mission to secure compromising 1970 pictures of Princess Margaret photographed in graphic sexual activity in a Caribbean hot spot.
The overlapping caper adds some confusion but it provides a very interesting bank robbing group none of whom we can trust to be into the caper for the stated reasons. The six member team, five guys and one girl, plan to dig a tunnel forty feet long under the Chicken Inn from LESAC which will come up under the safety deposit vault in the bank.
Suggested as based on a true story, one of the robbers is an agent for the secret MI-5 that works out of Whitehall. The police come very close to uncovering the caper when a constable investigates the noise which comes from the jackhammer under the Chicken Inn. The super secret agency does not want the robbery to be foiled by the locals, a successful striping of box 118 will protect the reputation of the Royal Family Member.
On the other side of town a black radical from 1971 appears to have clout to avoid prison for some secret reason, he is not aware of the threat hanging just over his head and a secret pay-off list is also now vulnerable placing certain law enforcement officers in jeopardy. Going just one step further members of the government are also on video playing at sex with prostitutes. The bad guys look like the good guys (there are few good guys), everyone is protecting something and the only true folks are the pure robbers.
The thieves are simple desperate men looking for money who become caught up in a national political and police scandal, they almost become off-beat heroes.
The action and plot twist and build in excitement as the screw slowly turns and what is hidden becomes obvious and motivations are spread wide as if they were in the ledger hidden in the broken safety deposit vault.
|The Bank Job||B||A-||C+||B||B|