Sunday, March 09, 2008

The Bank Job

Jason Statham stars as Terry, a questionable car dealer with a questionable past. Although Terry was never involved in any serious 'A-list' criminal activity, he and his mates explored their share of petty endeavors, however, now, with a wife and two young children, he's doing his best to make an 'honest' living and provide for his family even though things can be extremely difficult (as in loan sharks) at times. Which makes for a tough decision when the beautiful Martine Love (Saffron Burrows), one of the gang from the old neighborhood who went on to a successful modeling career, shows up with an interesting proposition. It seems Martine's current beau has given her information that offers a practically risk-free hit on one of London's Baker Street banks. Terry immediately sees this as his one opportunity to secure a comfortable and guaranteed future for his family where the odds of his succeeding far outweigh the odds of failing and losing his family for years, or worse. Martine's idea is to take advantage of the huge cache of safe deposit boxes which could hold much more in cash, jewels and other priceless objects than the bank alone, and also because the box owners may not want to report exactly what was taken, leaving the police to fend for themselves as the robbers go their separate ways. The only problem is that the boxes hold more than money and expensive baubles, they are packed with secrets, and to the people who these secrets belong, ranging from organized mobsters, dirty cops, and from prominent members of the British government straight up to the Royal Family, nothing, least of all the lives of the robbers, is more important than protecting their hidden knowledge.

I was surprised at just how good this flick was. The story is inspired by the infamous 1971 robbery that took place at Lloyds Bank in London at the intersection of Baker St and Marylebone Rd. While the true details of what the robbers absconded with remain steeped in mystery, it is a confirmed fact that four days after the robbery, the British authorities issued an official notice to the media requesting that they cease publishing or broadcasting news relating to the crime because of concerns regarding national security. The reasons behind the request were never publicly disclosed and the fact that such requests had been made have only recently been confirmed. The filmmakers, claiming that one of the producers has inside information about the robbery, expound on the prevailing theories and and craft an exceptionally well paced caper with a driving story that is both compelling and believable. All of the characters are well defined and fit nicely into the full arc of the film, however, the writers acknowledge that the lead female character, Martine Love, was created solely for dramatic purposes and is not based on any of their inside information. Thankfully, the writers knew what they were doing because the Love character makes for the perfect linchpin in a story that is as much about priceless intangible belongings as is it about physical objects that can be hidden in boxes.

I suppose my overall take on the film was helped by the fact that I went into the theater with only medium to medium-high expectations, and the fact that I'm a Jason Statham fan. Statham is one of those few guys that can pull off an all out action movie or a gritty realistic drama and for this outing, the drama won and, for the sake of this particular story, I'm glad it did. Despite my fondness for watching Statham kick ass, I'm never disappointed when he plays a straight non-action character, which he does remarkably well in this film. In fact, as I mentioned earlier, all of the characters are spot on and there is a particularly noteworthy chemistry between Burrows and Statham. The other amazing character that I absolutely must mention, because this is what took the film to an altogether higher level, is the character of the movie, itself. The easiest way to say it would be: This is the first new 70's movie to come out in almost thirty years. Now I'll admit, Fincher's Zodiac looked impeccable, exactly like the 70's, but this film not only looks the part, but carries all of the nuances as well. This movie could be watched between Dirty Harry and The Taking Of Pelham One Two Three and no time shift would be noticed, one would just flow into the other. At least that's my opinion. My other opinion is that if you like well acted and well told capers, regardless of the year, then you'll enjoy this movie, and if you're a fan of some of the great 70's flicks, you'll enjoy The Bank Job as much as I did.


Chris said...

You have a picture now. I guess that makes you a real person. Welcome stranger, nice to meet you ;)

John Taylor said...

Thanks chris - hopefully I'll have some quality shots worth viewing, like you do, before long.
I'll keep you posted.