Monday, March 10, 2008

"A Heist Gone Wrong...In All the Right Ways"

The Bank Job

Release: 03/07/2008
Rated R
1 hour, 50 minutes

Full Price ($$$$) <> Matinee ($$$)

I should let everyone know that I write this review having broken one of my cardinal rules. Over the years one thing I have adhered to before watching any film is that:

I never read any critic's review of a film before I see it and especially before I write about it (assuming I plan to see and write about it).

That said, I was forewarned by a fellow blogger that I would be disappointed with The Bank Job. I came close to reading his review, but abstained, grabbed the wifey and headed to the theater. When we came out, we were digging it and I couldn't help but think what about this bugged my blog buddy?! Hastening home to the PC, I broke my rule and read his review, then the review's comments, and then the review of another blog buddy with a similar position. I agree they both have some valid points, but now I must suffer the error of my ways. All these opinions have caused me to think way too much for way too long about Bank Job, a film not completely deserving of the attention. Here's my attempt to salvage what is left of my initial opinion.

Based on true events in 1971, Bank Job follows David Statham (The Italian Job) as Terry Leather, a London car dealer with loan-shark debts. One day his mate Martine Love, played by Saffron Burrows (Enigma), a right fine bird with bedroom eyes, gives him the scoop on a bank ripe to be robbed. Even though he and his shady buds aren't quite proper villains, Terry believes they can pull this off without a hitch. What Terry doesn't know is that Martine is being used by a government spook to retrieve compromising photos of a prominent royal figure from the vault.

Numerous con/heist movies, including Heist, Snatch, Confidence, and Ocean's Eleven, Twelve, and Thirteen are full of clever twists, turns, and the unanticipated missing piece that makes audiences tee-hee with glee once unveiled. The Bank Job is fairly lacking in these tumultuous, chest-thumping and mind-bottling moments. Instead, the film focuses on the rather serious task of robbing a bank with a few basic tools and without a lot of flash and attention. This lack of spectacle and uber-smooth safecrackers strengthened the 'true events' side of the tale. Obviously, the British government's D-notice (a news media hush-hush), a sealed secret file on Michael X (the photographs' purported owner), and a lack of verification from the heist's culprits makes it hard to discern the truthiness of these events. For all intent and purposes, the lack of bedazzlement gave this film a bit of grit and edge lacking in more polished heist films.

One problem with the film is a subplot involving secret agent Gale Benson, played by Hattie Morahan, as she tries to delve into the sordid world of drugs and prostitution surrounding black radical Michael X, played by Peter De Jersey. One assumes it serves the purpose of establishing the evil of Michael X and giving further historical accuracy. Unfortunately, it takes away from the details of the post-heist complications because it doesn't really progress the major plot, i.e. the bank job. The other issue I had with the film is that it features rather poorly chosen music. Sometimes, the music builds tension at inappropriate moments and is generally forgettable.

Dirty Undies
I knew there would be nudity in this; I just didn't realize it'd be out on Front Street within the first minute of the film! The film features a few clips of completely nude women, save one. I was disappointed that Saffron Burrows, for all her purported promiscuity, manages little more than passionate kisses. The plot would have been much better served by showing Saffron's sexcapades instead of the Government Gale tale. The post-heist scenes are brutal due to some mildly graphic torture. Statham gets the chance to bring his patented fighting skills to the table...I gotta tell you that cranium of his could pulverize walnuts!

The Money Shot
I enjoy a spectacular heist film as much as the next person (my DVD collection proves that). I also enjoy a dramatic film that keeps my attention without resorting to the usual sparkly bag of tricks. I'm not saying this is a must-see event, but its worth putting your own two cents.

-By the by, did anyone else think the vault attendant looked more than a tad familiar? I can't get no satisfaction until his celebrity identity is discovered!

Large Association of Movie Blogs


  1. I wish I could give people (and myself) "temporary amnesia" pills, because I swear that much to do with liking a movie or not is based on expectations going on. I would want to hear great things before I saw something, write down my reaction, take the pill, hear bad things, write a reaction, and then compare.

    I wonder if the warnings had any effect on your impressions of the movie. This was the rare movie that I went in seeing without seeing even a full trailer (I had seen one 30-second ad). I had heard that the reviews were good, but had not read any. Likewise, I wonder if this had an effect on my feelings towards it.

    Anyway, enough speculation. I'm glad you enjoyed it more than I, and thanks (I think ;) ) for the shout.

  2. I agree, amnesia pills would be awesome.

    I've wanted to start doing a "Other Opinions" link list in my reviews to offer opposing viewpoints & shameless cross-promotion. We'll have to keep track of how much, if any, it helps.

    As for the Bank Job, we've beaten this dead horse long enough. On to the next film!

  3. I try to see no trailers or read reviews before seeing a movie so I hear ya on the amnesia pills idea.

  4. Seeing too many trailers can be the death of a movie, too.
    I like seeing one, maybe two to get me revved up, but then I just want to be secure in whatever pre-established opinion I've made!