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Review of “The Bank Job” (2008) R 1h 50min

March 7th, 2008 by Maxim · 3 Comments · 10,853 Views


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Lionsgate Films’ “The Bank Job” (2008) posterThis is an excellent heist movie based on real events. Directed by Roger Donaldson (The World’s Fastest Indian, The Recruit, Thirteen Days, Dante’s Peak, Species etc.). Written by Dick Clement (Across the Universe, Flushed Away) and Ian La Frenais (also worked on the latter two movies). Starring Jason Statham. Lionsgate Films.

The plot: Based on actual events of 1971 robbery of Baker Street Bank in London! MI6 is trying to get to a politician from Trinidad who was conspiring to traffic drugs into UK, but he untouchable because he had compromising materials on everybody, including several judges and even members of the royal family. The photographs end up in a British bank. The government wants to steal these photographs but cannot be involved in stealing them from the bank safety deposit box. They make a deal with some shady persons: rob the bank, keep the loot, give us the contents of the deposit box #108. The team was headed by car dealer with shady past, Terry Leather (Jason Statham). To the team the tip by a beautiful model from Terry’s old neighborhood, Martine Love (Suffron Burrows), looks like a great idea: most people who have deposit boxes would never report the contents to police – they keep things in the safety deposit boxes precisely to keep the from police! The thieves dug the tunnel from a small shop across the street from the bank. All went well despite some serious hiccups along the way. However they have discovered many more documents and compromising materials. Once the news of the bank robbery had become public, the owners of the deposit boxes were after the robbers to retrieve their property before police does, so now the robbers were in a bit of a pickle. To protect the royals and other government members, government had issued a gag order (D-Notice was one of the working titles) and the media has been silenced about the biggest bank robbery ever for 30 years. The vast majority of the owners of deposit boxes had never made any claims. Turned out the criminals were the most innocent people of all the people affected by the robbery. Many police officers were brought on corruption charges, and many high-ranked government officials had lost their positions.

The good: very well executed heist-gone-bad movie. Great rhythm, the story that gets more and more complications and pressure and suspense building up toward the end. Nicely reproduced 1970s: the costumes, the haircuts and the cars of course. The plot is not hard to follow, although it gets more and more sophisticated and suspenseful, involving corruption, torture, murder, sex. Great performances, Statham and supporting crew doing an excellent job. The trill of the movie is all about whether the team will get away with it. Funny moment in the final credits: “the names have been changed to protect the guilty”. Another true thing in this movie: in one of the scenes, just for a few seconds, we see photograph of the gangster Michael X () together with John Lennon – in real life Lennon paid Michael X’s bail in 1971. Whether MI-6 or MI-5 (”I can never tell the difference”, a policeman says) was really involved, hard to say, but the fact of the robery was disclosed only in 2001, 30 years after government issued the D-notice (a.k.a. Defence Advisory) to protect some government members and princess Margaret.

The bad: nothing to complain about, really, except maybe that it was a bit slow in the beginning, but with a great payoff toward the end. Also, I heard T-Rex’s “Get it on” song too many times in movies about British stuff – it has become a signature song and is overused to the point of becoming a bit of a cliche. The villains, Michael X (Peter De Jersey) and Lew Vogel (David Suchet who played Poirot), did not get enough screen time to fully develop as characters. Statham seems to always be the same in all movies.

The summary: a very memorable heist movie you’d want to watch more then once. The teaser trailers portray the movie as a British version of Ocean’s Eleven, a typical movie about a heist with some humor, but this is actually a pretty heavy stuff. Hard to believe it all actually happened. Especially in the aftermath of the bank job the story becomes really menacing.

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Rated 5/5 on Mar 7 2008
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Tags: Crime/Gangster · Drama · Foreign · Movies · Thrillers/Suspense · UK

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3 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Liz // Mar 14, 2008 at 4:57 pm

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    I love a good heist movie, so I might have to check this out. I’ve always doubted Jason Statham’s ability to carry a film on his own, but I’ll give him a shot.

  • 2 Eugene // Apr 14, 2008 at 10:21 am

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    Absolutely agree. Even though I really like Jason Statham he is pretty much the same Turkish (from Snatch that is) in all of his roles.
    The movie is great, although one of the things I didn’t like was a somewhat cheesy twist at the end with the Statham’s character’s personal life preference (don’t want to have spoilers here). Not real life like. But hey, that’s why they call them movies, right?

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