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If "The Bank Job" were fiction, it would be a fairly decent robbery
caper. As it is, "The Bank Job," a veritable documentary and realistic
whodunit, is awesome.
Unlike most films, this one requires a couple of advance tips: First, watch it with the improbable idea in mind that most of it is actual, hard-to-believe truth; second, don't be impatient. As the story of a 1971 bank robbery begins, the setting in London, the parade of seemingly unconnected stories and characters is rather confusing, complex, disjointed. But stay with it - there is a crescendo of excitement and excellence.
The true elements of "The Bank Job," some hidden until recently by Britain's "D Notice" censorship law (modified in 1993, becoming DA, or Defense Advisory) are these:
1. A big bank robbery did take place on Baker Street in 1971, culprits never found, money never recovered. After initial big headlines, the story disappeared from the newspapers.
2. There was serious police corruption in London in the 1970s, cops on payrolls of drug dealers and pornographers.
3. Princess Margaret was involved in a series of affairs, some caught on compromising photos which were not published by the otherwise relentlessly sensational British press, under the D-Notice rule.
4. There was a militant British black-power advocate, called Michael X, involved in a one-man, multi-country crime wave. (In 1971, John Lennon paid for Michael X's bail, something not mentioned in the film.)
"The Bank Job" director Roger Donaldson (of "No Way Out") brings together all these true threads in a way that may be true even in its totality, director and cast prevailing over some shoddy work from too many writers.
The content is all true, the context is excitingly possible. Did the government, in trying to prevent exposure of Princess Margaret by evidence in Michael X's possession, mastermind the bank robbery? Was MI-5 or MI-6 (says a policeman in the film: "I never remember which is which") involved, and actually assisting the robbers? Again, possibly.
The cast is remarkable: Jason Statham is the ringleader, the bad guy of "Transporter" and "The Italian Job" turning into a scourge of the really bad guys. Saffron Burrows, James Spader's vamp nemesis on "Boston Legal," brings her remarkable name and looks to the criminally and emotionally ambiguous major female role.
Peter De Jersey is a totally scary Michael X; David ("Poirot") Suchet is a frightening crime lord; and a whole host of top British stage actors fill in big roles and small ones. Don't be misled by reviews speaking of a so-so thriller - "The Bank Job" is a great deal more than that, even to the point that you may want to see it more than once.
Film-making at it's finest.
Nothing loud and boisterous. No over-stylized cinematography, pointless set-pieces, cheesy dialogue, or over-flowing emotions.
A perfect example of why the finest movie-making talent in Hollywood is British. And possibly the best caper movie of recent times.
Had this been from Hollywood, every fine detail of the complex subtext in the story would have been blown apart. Instead, everything is under-played, the characters are superbly realistic and believable, and the script sharp as a pin. And the cast is a brilliant ensemble.
Worth many repeated viewings for the subtle humour and to get the most out of the twisting plot developements.
I'll be honest, I only saw The Bank Job because I had some free tickets
for an advance screening, had I have not got these tickets I would not
have bothered seeing it. The only trailer I had saw for it just didn't
really appeal to me, I do enjoy Jason Statham movies, but this one
seemed a bit serious in my eyes. Still I went today to the 6.30
screening and was surprised to enjoy it quite as much as I did.
Admittedly for the first half hour I did get quite bored, the
characters weren't really memorable and the set up seemed really dull.
Thankfully when the heist gets under way, and especially the aftermath,
the movie hits top gear and left me thrilled. The fact the movie is
based on a true story still leaves me quite amazed, as the events that
happen seem purely like the stuff that you see in the movies. How much
of it is real and how much of it is purely to make it a better movie, a
fight involving Statham I am certain didn't happen. The performances
are surprisingly well rounded, Statham doing a brilliant job and the
majority of the supporting cast getting some great scenes. Alas the
movie does start to fall apart under close inspection, the plot is
never concluded quite as well as I would have liked, and the movie does
have some long stretches where not a lot is happening. If you can
overlook this fact then you will a lot to enjoy in this very well made
So onto the performances. As I have said Statham does a surprisingly admirable job in the film. When you look at his CV of films you realise he isn't exactly the most talented actor. In fact all he generally has to do is grumble and hit things a lot. But there is just no denying that the man has a hell of a lot of charisma, in this film he truly gets to display his acting skills. Of course on occasion he delivers a dodgy line, but then if you watch some of the smaller scenes with his characters wife you realise how much potential he has. If given the right material I am sure Statham can truly develop as an actor. Saffron Burrows is brilliant as the slightly suspicious Martine for the first half, unfortunately after the heist she has little to do and the character never felt fully concluded. Still she does have some great moments in the earlier part of the film. Daniel Mays runs off with the majority of the movie as Dave, in fact this looks set to launch Mays career a bit further, he has the best lines and is a funny character. Richard Lintern (who I have to confess I thought was Dougray Scott for half the film) is brilliant as the man behind the heist, in some way that is, and his character is one of the most rounded. Peter De Jersey as Michael X is menacing in his all too brief screen time, but like Martine his character never felt fully dealt with. Still he and the other chief villain, David Suchet, are quite menacing.
The Bank Job when advertised does come across as a typical gangster flick with a lot of humour in it. However when watching it I have to be honest and say it isn't that funny. There are a couple of lines here and there but the movie doesn't really make you laugh that much. Neither is it that big of a gangster flick, of course there are the local gangster running around, and the movie becomes more along that line towards the end. But for the majority of the film it comes across as a slightly grittier and far less flashy Ocean's Eleven. The scenes where they try to rob the bank are definitely some of the highlights, however its the final 45 minutes that stick firmly in mind. What happens after the robbery is just thrilling to watch, will they get away with it, won't they? Things also get a lot darker near the end, also quite violent one scene, or the idea of what was going to happen, made me wince a bit. The film is superbly directed as well, its not too flashy but there are some great shots in there. Unfortunately the music does start to irritate after a while, everything seems overdone, a scene which is meant to be funny is ruined because the music sounds like its from an action movie, it just doesn't truly suit the film all the time. Also as previously mentioned the beginning as well is quite boring.
Overall The Bank Job is a great movie that with a bit of fine tuning at the beginning could make it even better. If you want a smart thriller that will surprise you because of it being based on real events that I highly recommend this. Don't expect an all time classic though.
I expected this movie to be somewhat entertaining, and maybe a bit
cheesy. After all, it's not difficult to muck up a heist movie.
However, this film gets it all right. The acting is top notch, the
story is not only engaging and clever but TRUE (!), and the experience
of seeing it is thoroughly enjoyable.
The only complaints I have of the film are that the characters do get a little cheeky from time to time (but hey, they're British, so it's kind of expected), and there's a couple flashbacks/lapses in time that are initially confusing - although everything is clearly laid out about halfway through. Want to see a good movie? Check this one out!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I was watching Ebert and Roper the other day on TV and they were
discussing 2008's movies and how over all they have been disappointed,
I think we all have. But they did discuss the top movies to see and The
Bank Job was in their top three, I finally found a theater that was
still playing the movie, I saw it today and I have to say that I really
loved this heist movie. It's definitely one of the better heist movies
in a very long time because it brings something different to the table,
this isn't a movie about the heist, it's the aftermath of the heist. We
are always usually left wondering if the robbers got away with the
heist afterwords in movies. Now this movie is based on a true story,
it's based in the 1970's(bonus it doesn't remind you every 10 minutes)
and it's about just amateur robbers that pulled off one of the largest
heists in England's history with finding corrupt cops and ending badly.
Martine Love approaches Terry Leather, an amateur thief and long time friend. She offers information to get into one of the biggest heists they could hit, the ability to break into a vault. Terry and his group successfully break into the vault and takes four million pounds, including jewelery, cash, bonds, and some extremely private and damaging photos of the mobsters and government of England. When the group just about gets away with it, things go terribly wrong when one of the members are captured and they found out there was an alterer motive to this heist.
The Bank Job has great acting, terrific editing, and is just a great thriller that truly keeps your attention. Jason Statham, this guy has never really stood out to me as someone who could be a good actor, most of his movies could never display what he could do, but The Bank Job is without a doubt his finest role to date that I'm aware of, he pulls the part off well and makes the story more real. The Bank Job has great drama and action, it's a great movie that I'm really glad I saw, a big recommendation if you're looking for a good movie to watch.
Sold to the American public as another D-level action pic staring Jason
Statham, "The Bank Job" is actually a crafty British heist flick based
on an incredible true story. The screenwriters deserve credit for
creating a serviceable script with so many intertwining stories based
on little actual evidence, conjecture, here-say, and conspiracy
theories revolving around royal and political sex scandals, militant
Caribbean drug lords, undercover MI5 agents, bumbling crooks, crooked
cops, and double-crosses and cover-ups. It could've easily been a
confusing mess, but providing the viewer pays attention, "The Bank Job"
gets the job done as crackerjack entertainment.
Though aptly directed by veteran Roger Donaldson, the film does suffer from an overly salacious opening ten minutes designed to grab the audience's attention, some shoddy editing, and an intrusively bad action-style music score. There's also an attention to 1970's period detail in the dialogue and clothes that comes across as caricature and adds an accidentally humorous undertone to the otherwise cold-as-ice affair. However, the details of the "truth is stranger than fiction" tale and the fun had by the ensemble cast make for a breezy way to spend a few hours.
Donaldson also has an eye for the ladies. Led by a smashingly gorgeous Saffron Burrows (looking like a European version of Michelle Pfeiffer circa 1992), the powerful women depicted in "The Bank Job" are far more than just eye candy. Statham is also fairly good as the head of the bank robbing crew, and when he finally throws a brick at a guy near the end of the film, it will put a smile on any action fan's face.
Things get tidied up a bit too nicely in the end, where it seems only the really villainous characters have to face justice, but before the credits role, there are a series of real-life epilogued details plastered on the screen that make the viewer realize maybe this all really did happen. Now that's a jolly good show.
I'm old enough to remember this robbery well, and the film does a great credit to a very true story, Jason Statham is Terry a very small time hood with a car lot (like Arthur Daly) who get lured into this bank Job by one time girl friend Martine (Safron Burrows-who l saw in Enigma) she is very beautiful, along with some mates they do the robbery, masterminded by Peter Bowels, a long way from his smooth Richard De Vere days in To The Manor Born, mind you he's still smoothie in this film, also along for the ride is David Suchet as a London Porn King, and Georgia Taylor one of the Battersby girls from Coronation Street. The film moves at a hell of a pace, and slowly builds to a great climax, l don't want to give away any of the plot all l can say is go and see this film, l admit l went to a pre-release night, but l might even go and see it again it's that good, l give it 9 out of 10
I also saw this film at an advance screening. I don't normally watch any of the trailers before going, so tend to go in with an open mind. I was very pleasantly surprised, and while it perhaps won't win any Oscars, I thought it was well acted in the main with some faces you'll recognise. It might not have massive appeal outside the UK, however it is a good (based on fact) story. I'm not a massive fan of 70's music, but it wouldn't have done any harm to have a bit more in the background just to give it more of a seventies feel about it. The general mood of the film was good and for me seemed to set the scene well, without going overboard with sex or violence. On the whole, it's well worth a visit, even if you have never lived in that era.
As caper flicks go, all I really hope for is something that succeeds in
being both novel and entertaining. My hopes were satisfied by The Bank
Job. The plot itself is based very loosely on events that occurred in
the 1970s in London. The royal family has some dark secrets. An
outspoken activist/petty criminal/drug importer has evidence of these
secrets, which he uses as leverage against the government who
desperately wants to prosecute him. This evidence is stored in a safety
deposit box within a London bank. British Intelligence conjures up a
rather reckless plan of employing a bunch of two-bit/amateur criminals
to break into the vault, and take the evidence along with whatever else
they can carry out. Apart from one intermediary, none of the robbers
know the government's secret agenda. Of course, things get complicated
whenever the possibility that a bunch of dirty secrets are in the wrong
hands, and eventually the movie juggles several interconnecting plot
lines, all related to the contents of the vault and their implication
on various interests from the royal family, to corrupt police, to the
sexual indiscretions of parliament members.
The movie keeps a good pace and never takes itself too seriously. It builds up the plot lines and tries somewhat successfully to tie everything together. There is some good tension, a bit of violence (not much), and eventually, vindication for most of the parties.
The problems with the movie are numerous, but nothing that ultimately destroys the fun. Yes the movie is rife with inexplicably, unnecessary side characters (see female undercover agent in the Caribbean). Yes the movie's dialogue veers into indecipherable 1970s British slang, which gives a comedic undertone to conversations that are intended to be serious. Yes there exist rampant plot issues that make you wonder how stupid cops really are. And yes the acting is OK, at best, lets face it Jason Stracham is meant for British caper movies the way Keanu Reeves is meant to play a clueless surfer cop in Point Break - so while he's not winning any Academies, he fits these rolls just fine.
You could wait for the DVD, or if you are looking for a fun way to kill 2 hours, you should go to the theater for this one.
Sporting complex consequences for a relatively straightforward plot,
The Bank Job remains intriguing throughout as each set-up leads to ever
more suspenseful twists for the likable group of ragtag antiheroes.
Over-thorough character introductions cause a slower build in the early
stages of the heist, but such complications likely arise from fewer
liberties taken with the "based on a true story" events, and the result
is a fascinating look at criminals, the corrupt, and those least
It is 1971 in East London and a fateful bank robbery begins to take shape. In order to remove the threat of radical gangster Michael X, government officials devise a plan to rob a bank on Baker Street and retrieve damning photographs from his possession. To keep the heist untraceable back to them, an independent group of thieves, led by car dealer Terry (Jason Statham) and the cunning Martine (Saffron Burrows) are unwittingly thrown into a deadly battle against corrupt officials and London's criminal underworld.
Jason Statham isn't your typical leading man, yet ever since Guy Ritchie's early films he has managed to keep coming back with bigger and better roles and is now thought of as an action film star. However it's here, in darker thrillers, that he finds a more sincere presence, especially as thief and scoundrel Terry. Each moral flaw creates a more dimensional character, and one worth rooting for.
The language of the film is genuinely intriguing, as it captures wonderfully wry British slang. Cheeky sod, 12-inch mutton dagger, a bit of bother, usual skullduggery and things turning a-custard are but a few of the verbal jousts that occur between the main characters. Devoid of euphuisms, these apparently authentic words make the dialogue a particularly potent piece of the puzzle.
The entire subplot about Michael X and his blackmailing of the British government is useful in its supposed tie to facts, but as filmed scenes in the movie, they are hardly necessary. Photographs of a princess caught in the act of promiscuity are at the root of the blackmail plot, which then goes on to include further damaging materials from Sonia Bern's brothel, also of factual importance, but equally unnecessary in the film. Michael X's involvement could have been entailed in a briefing by the 506 crew, who spill out the usual generic explanations of villains, and even Bern's entanglement could have been narrated through the details of the photos. While most of these moments have their entertainment value, essentially they serve to drag out the film's running time.
They say truth is stranger than fiction, and The Bank Job definitely falls into that category. Pimps, thieves, spies, and government officials all collide in a robbery gone right and then terribly wrong, lending the inquisitive to ponder over how much (or little) is fabricated in this thriller. The robbery itself is merely the setup to an intricate conclusion, even though the film takes time to create plenty of suspense throughout the not-so-carefully planned heist. Though the people making demands continually change, our attention is always seated with Jason Statham's unusually intense performance. When the credits roll and the explanation that "the names have been changed to protect the guilty" flashes on screen, we realize what a delightfully flourished yet entertaining tale of "doing the wrong thing" The Bank Job really is.
- The Massie Twins
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