Archive Review: The Bank Job (2008)

“The Bank Job” is fun, so much fun that you kinda have to stare awkwardly at its “based on a true story” tagline. Did a bank robbery where the press was blacked out really happen? Was it really set up as a government operation to retrieve critical blackmail photos of Princess Margaret? Speculation aside, “The Bank Job” hardly needs its truth disclaimer. It’s a good story taking a different angle on the overdone British heist thriller. Its place in history only makes it the more unique.

First of all, don’t be worried of about this being just another Jason Statham movie. The Transporter and Crank series star has finally piloted something genuinely creative here. For one thing, the film takes place in the ’70s. With that comes a whole different look to the heist movie and no fancy technology either.

The story has Statham’s character Terry and his band of amateur criminals being offered a unique bank robbery opportunity by an old friend, Martine (Saffron Burrows). What they don’t know, is that Martine is doing this to clear her own record and has set them up to a do a job for the government: retrieve incriminating photos of Princess Margaret in the possession of Black Panther Michael X, who’s using them to keep himself out of jail. The photos are in a safety deposit box in the bank in question.

Half the film is the heist itself, then the second half its aftermath as the thieves find themselves being hunted by law enforcement, the government who put them there in the first place and the immoral men in power who want the photos back. We actually end up pitying Statham and his men because they had no idea what they were getting into.

“Bank Job” works very quickly to get the heist going and it’s sort of choppy film-making for a good thirty minutes. After the characters and what’s really going on with the government and all settles in, the movie takes off. Its non-traditional heist premise simply requires a good deal of set-up time. The characters are a little shallow, but they have clear goals and clear things at stake. Their amateur technique comes through and wins our sympathies despite their ignorance of radio technology and how they pop champagne bottles found in the deposit boxes before they’ve even left the bank.

It’s safe to say “Bank Job” is one of the better heist flicks made in awhile, with so many tired and repetitive stories being told. British TV writers Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais deserve a lot of credit for finding this story, sealing the rights and bringing it to life in an entertaining and creative way, regardless how much is actually true.

4/5 Stars

Directed by: Roger Donaldson
Written by: Dick Clement, Ian La Frenais
Starring: Jason Statham, Saffron Burrows


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