2008 - United Kingdom - 111 minutes
Director - Roger Donaldson
Writers - Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais
My Rating - 4 of 5 Stars
Jason Statham is a macho guy. He's got enough testosterone to sink a battleship and probably has to change blades in the middle of a shave. In most of his films he plays an over-the-top role as a hero involved in unbelievable action from the beginning to the end of the film. He is very good in those roles, and I must admit that I enjoy those action flicks. The Bank Job is somewhat a change of pace for Statham. It has its fair share of action, but the action is not exaggerated. There is far more subtlety here than in most of his other films.
The tagline of the film is "Based Upon a True Story" but don't think that this is an truly accurate depiction of the actual crime. In reality, the film uses three events of the early 70's amalgamated into a fast moving crime thriller.
There really was a bank robbery in 1971 London at a bank on Baker Street just a few blocks from the fictional home of Sherlock Holmes. The thieves tunneled under a connection shop and blasted their way into the vault where they rifled the safety deposit boxes. It was reported that they got away with some five-hundred-thousand pounds of booty but the actual amount may have been much more considering many of the box holders did not disclose the contents of the boxes.
Also active in 1970's England was a radical known as Michael X who was basically the English version of Malcolm X. He was a darling of such supporters as John Lennon.
The Royals in the 70's were having a very good time - especially Princess Margaret. She had a scandalous affair with a much younger man that eventually led to her divorce - keeping in mind that her husband was surely no saint.
The authors of the screenplay have skillfully combined these three elements into a nice, tight little crime caper thriller that holds your attention from beginning to end. Terry (Statham) is approached by long-time friend Martine (Saffron Burrows) with a scheme to rob a bank. Terry - who doesn't always travel on the side of the law - agrees in order to find the money to keep his exotic car business going. He gathers together a group of acquaintances with whom he has worked in the past. The plan is to rent a vacant shop near the bank, tunnel under the vault, and break in through the floor. It seems that Martine has found out that the vibration alarms have been turned off for a short period of time.
What Terry doesn't know is that Martine is working as a front for MI-5 and that the true objective of the theft is to retrieve some compromising photographs of Princess Margaret. Throw in photographs and films of high government officials in sex acts stored in the vault by a high class madame and an account book of a major porn producer who is paying off the cops and is in business with Michael X in human trafficking and you have a room of safety deposit boxes filled with riches and the seeds of disaster for a large number of government officials.
All of the acting and the actors in this film are restrained and believable. Stratham does a great job as one time bad boy who has settled down with a wife and kids and only ventures into the theft in order to maintain his lifestyle. His companions come across as just regular guys who don't mind a bit of larceny. Saffron Burrows is absolutely beautiful. She is a former model and plays a former model in the film. But she isn't there just for window dressing as she certainly holds her own with her male counterparts.
The Bank Job is good, solid entertainment. It doesn't challenge, but that doesn't matter because it enables you to just sit back, relax and enjoy.
July 21, 2008