THE BANK JOB
**** (out of 5)
March 7, 2008
Jason Statham as TERRY LEATHER
Saffron Burrows as MARTINE LOVE
Stephen Campbell Moore as KEVIN SWAIN
Daniel Mays as DAVE SHILING
James Faulkner as GUY SINGER
Directed by: Roger Donaldson
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
I’m a real sucker for a good heist movie. I loved all the “Oceans” flicks, and I even liked Edward Norton in “The Italian Job.” All filmmakers have to do is slap together a semi-complex plan, cast the film with somewhat likable characters and tie it together with a punchy soundtrack, and I’m hooked.
With that said, it’s no big surprise that I really did enjoy “The Bank Job.” And it wasn’t too soon, with the competition this weekend being “10,000 BC” and “College Road Trip” for the top spots.
“The Bank Job” tells the true story of a band of small-time crooks who are lured into pulling off the heist of the decade. It seems that a Black Power leader named Michael X has been blackmailing the British government with sexually incriminating photos of Princess Margaret. A spook at MI-5 hooks a pretty criminal named Martine (Saffron Burrows) and gets her to bait Terry Leather (Jason Statham) into taking the job.
While “The Bank Job” does follow a general formula for heist films – the rag-tag group of crooks, the elaborate scheme to get into the bank, the wild goose chase by the authorities – it manages to stay fresh by pumping the story full of plenty of charge.
Statham holds his own as a leading man, melding his tough guy image with a sincere family man. His character has a strong heart, and he takes the job with the best interest of his gang in mind. They’re not professional crooks, which gives them a certain amount of protection. However, when things start to turn sour, their amateur nature gets the best of them.
Things start off rather upbeat and lighthearted, similar to Statham’s earlier crime dramady “Snatch.” However, as the gang tries to get away with the goods, a whole heap of ugliness falls around them from all sides. This winding of the spring through the first two-thirds of the film pays off in the end with some shocking moments and a charge of suspense and action.
Because the film takes place in the early 1970s, the movie is given the look of that decade, with an earthy color saturation and slightly grainy film stock. However, with modern filmmaking techniques that don’t get in the way (read as: no Paul Greengrass shakeycam here), the film grips the audience with its visceral style.
Part of the charm of this movie is that these criminals aren’t the best around, and they make plenty of mistakes. In fact, they litter the sets with them. This actually works as a breath of fresh air in a marketplace where the “Oceans” movies support themselves on ridiculous foresight, unbelievable skill and completely scenarios.
Much like last year’s art-house favorite, “The Lookout,” “The Bank Job” revels in the characters’ inadequacies. That’s what makes things interesting, and you know when things are going so well that – as Kurt Vonnegut used to say – the proverbial excrement will hit the air conditioner soon enough.