The trailers for this film seemed to indicate a fun comic caper with action man Jason Statham taking a less intense role than his usual action fare. I was surprised to discover however upon watching “The Bank Job” that it’s actually a tight, tense and fascinating thriller about a real life bank robbery that uncovered corruption and scandal within Britain’s elite. The robbers are the heroes in this case, which makes for an interesting twist on the bank heist formula. Director Roger Donaldson, despite some odd, off-balance camera work and a choppy opening First Act, shapes a film that will leave you on the edge of your seat waiting to see how the robbers get away with all the loot and escape in one piece from MI5, MI6, the Government, terrorists and all manner of other nefarious “villains”.
The best aspects of this film relate to its slow uncovering of scandal and corruption within Britian’s elite; politicians, the Royals, police. They are all implicated in one way or another with incriminating photos, bribery ledgers and other incriminating material which is locked in the safe deposit boxes of the bank. You know going in at first that scandalous images of Princess Margaret will be found, but the film changes entirely when photos of so many other noted individuals are stolen. The robbers cleverly use these as a bargaining tool to avoid any sort of punishment for their crime, which considering the circumstances, is quite minor compared to what they uncover. In a telling scene at the end, one of the police detectives who stumbles upon the robbery in progress chooses to let the robbers go at the end when he realises he’s nabbed some bigger fish.
Jason Statham has his best film role as the lead bank robber. Unlike his American films where he seems a little stiff and awkward, Statham looks right at home in this British caper, providing a strong focal point which the other cast revolve around. He gets to do some action, but mostly he looks like he’s enjoying the part which is very welcome.
The violence in the film is surprisingly subtle but no less effective. Given the caliber of other British heist films, director Donaldson could have gone for more of the same, particularly in some sequences that are quite brutal, but he takes the “Scarface” approach and does not actually show you anything. In this film, one of the robbers gets his foot blow-torched off and a woman gets hacked to death with a huge butcher knife but it’s all off camera. Likewise with the sex scenes; all implied. This allows the film to stay focused on its story, and given its real life basis and incredible nature, these subtleties allow you to enjoy the plot unfold to maximum effect.
The flaws in the film are relatively minor. The opening Act is perhaps the weakest part of the film, jumping around from place to place, sometimes quite jarringly to establish all of the main players. You have to make sure you are paying close attention as important set ups occur that will pay off later in the film. A smoother editing job would have made this a better experience. The only other problem is the unbalanced camera angles chosen for the shots. Much of the film is off-centre which works in some scenes but is downright distracting in others.
“The Bank Job” is a superb thriller, with great performances, twists, turns and edge of your seat thrills to keep you thoroughly entertained.
For the complete, original DVD review, click this link: http://www.allaboutmovies.net/dvdreviewthebankjob.htm.
Alex DeMattia is the lead DVD reviewer at the film/DVD review web site http://www.allaboutmovies.net.