Friday, March 7, 2008

The Bank Job

“We’re not bank robbers.”
“Maybe that’s why we could get away with it.”

Terry (Jason Stratham) and his small-time crook pals (Daniel Mays, Michael Jibson, Stephen Campbell Moore, Alki David, James Faulkner) are offered a chance at the biggest score of their lives by one of Terry’s old flames, Martine (Safron Burrows).

Trouble is they only know have the half the story. Martine is actually working for MI5 (British Intelligence) who desperately need some damaging photographs from a safety deposit box owned by a black militant (Peter De Jersey) who is using them to blackmail the government.

Tim (Richard Lintern) is given the assignment of capturing the damaging material without using any company resources, as the government can not be tied to the operation if all goes wrong. He blackmails Martine into getting her friends to do the job.

The job is further complicated by a pornographer (David Suchet) whose ledger of police payoffs is also hidden among the treasures the team lifts from the bank.

The heist plot of the film works quite well, as does the insecurity of Terry’s wife (Kasey Baterip) and his daughters fearing for Terry’s safety and disapproval of his reuniting with Martine. However the film also burdens the story with unnecessary and distracting subplots which keep getting in the way. One involves the dealings of Michael X (De Jersey), another involves an undercover agent (Hattie Morahan) working to infiltrate his cult, and another involves a madam (Sharon Maughan) whose box contained potentially damaging pictures of Lord Drysdale (Rupert Drysdale) and other members of the government.

When the film sticks to the heist, and the complications which arise directly from the undertaking it works very well. How the thieves are initially discovered is an interesting twist, as is the power the danger they put themselves in and the unknown power they achieve after completing the robbery.

The Bank Job is loosely based on ther real Baker Street robbery, also know as the Walkie-Talkie robbery, which occured in 1971, involved levels of national security which caused the events to be immediately hushed up in the press, and remains unsolved to this day. How much truth this film this film contains versus the amount of ficition and guesswork is anyone’s guess, though it seems, to me, to rely greatly on the later. Though, if you are looking for historical accuracy theatrical films are rarely your best bet. In reality four men were charged with the crime though the undisclosed amount stolen (because many of those with safety deposit boxes refused to identify what was taken) was never recovered.

Whether truth or fiction, the film works either way. I love heist filcks and although The Bank Job is certainly a flawed film and could have used at least one more rewrite, there’s still a large part of the movie that works. You can find two-thirds of a really good movie here, and if you can make it through the rest, without losing interest, I think you’ll have a good time.

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