The Bank Job
fashioned in style, subject and execution, The Bank Job may look and
feel like the 1970s, but it is one of the better caper dramas of the new
that slightly anachronistic feel is one of the reasons that the film works
so well. This Brit import goes back to a time of substance over style,
grit over glitz. The movie is better for that sense of groundedness.
the tail end of the glory days of swinging London — the film takes place a
year or two after the breakup of the Beatles but still a few years pre-punk
— it is a story in which the dying idealism of the sixties makes bad
bedfellows with the old-school crime of the generation before.
You can see
this (based on a) true story having a happening old school British cast of
Michael Caine, Richard Harris, Malcolm McDowell, Robert Shaw, Peter O'Toole
and a couple of sweet-talking birds like Twiggy or Jeanie Shrimpton — if
the film were made soon after the heist actually happened.
years down the pike, the cast they have assembled is more earthbound (which
does allow them to disappear into their roles and era better), but in all
other ways The Bank Job feels like an old film stumbled upon at three
o'clock in the morning on AMC.
In fact, a
double feature of this film and David Fincher's similarly fact-based early
70s crime drama Zodiac would be a fascinating social and
anthropological commentary — nailing the slightly paranoid pre-Watergate
era on both sides of the pond. Both films look at that moment in
history when the idealism of the hippie movement sours, when people realized
that trusting their government may not be in their best interest.
seems like a lot of baggage to dump on a bank heist film, perhaps it is, but
The Bank Job courts that gravity. The movie is just as
interested (perhaps more) in the social and political mores of its time
which spur the caper as it is in the sterile mechanics of the heist as newer
films of its type (such as Entrapment, The Italian Job, the
Mission Impossible films).
breaking into the vault of Lloyd's of London is actually one of the less
interesting parts of the movie. Even the people doing it seemed to
recognize that — they ended up taking a nap soon after they made it into
the vault rather than grabbing all they can carry as fast as they can and
getting the hell out of there.
In fact, a
lot of what they do in the break-in seems a little stupid. They dig a
tunnel with jackhammers under a busy street during business hours.
They also communicate with walkie-talkies, giving up details of their crime
that anyone could intercept.
Statham (Snatch, The Transporter, Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels)
uses his thuggy minimalism to wonderful effect as Terry Leather — the gang
leader who is led into a scheme which is much more dangerous than he ever
imagined. He plays a former small-time thief who has gone straight.
He now has a loving wife, two daughters and a failing dream business selling
high-end sports cars.
temptation to get back to the life of crime is Martine Love (Saffron
Burrows) a former-model crush who comes to him with a plan for the perfect
crime. Seems she is dating a man who works in security who let is slip
that the alarm at a local branch of Lloyd's of London will be shut off for a
Martine has an angle of her own, and she is being used by the British
government in ways even she does not recognize. Apparently there are
some compromising photos of Princess Margaret on an island vacation fling —
which were taken by a murderous black militant, who is now using them to
blackmail the courts. Martine is promised if she gets those photos
back for the government, she can keep any other loot she gets.
it all turns out to be much more complicated than anyone imagined.
One box has
a ledger which chronicles payoffs of dirty cops in London. There are
also other sexually explicit photos of high-level politicians which are
hidden in another safe deposit box, taken by a local madame. (It is
ironic and yet I guess not surprising how hard the politicians work to keep
these under wraps. Sadly, it is still incendiary stuff. I saw
this film in New York City on the very day that New York governor Eliot
Spitzer had to resign because of a tryst with an escort).
suddenly the gang is being chased down by a whole cadre of gangsters, cops,
politicians and militants. This is where the movie takes flight.
with a crisp, no-nonsense style by veteran Roger Donaldson, The Bank Job
is one of the better heist movies to come down the pike in quite some
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2008 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved.
Posted: March 12, 2008.