International Writers Magazine:
Director: Rodger Donaldson
Writers: Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais
by Callum Graham
I rented this film I expected an average heist thriller, with the
usual violent undertones that Jason Statham has brought to many
of his recent films. I was surprised, but not necessarily in a good
way. Set in 1971 and based on a true story, the plot follows a group
of part time criminals who break into a London bank, only to find
that after the heist has seemingly gone off without a hitch, they
have got themselves in deeper than they thought. They quickly learn
it pays to know who you are stealing from.
The first half of
the film was relatively light hearted and uncomplicated. I was surprised
by the huge amount of explicit sex in its first few minutes. The opening
scene was some kind of orgy to the soundtrack get it on
by T-Rex, this was swiftly followed by a strip club and
then a high class brothel a few moments later. It reminded me of the
dark, seedy undertones of Lock, Stock and two smoking barrels
but without the cleverness or subtleness of a Guy Richie plot and script.
The audience were not given much more than a barrage of 70s pop
culture icons such as the Mini, E-types jaguars, and peace and love
symbols to set the scene. This quickly became clichéd. The dialogue
was to the point and little time was spent getting to know the characters
before the action commenced. This didnt matter to much as the
characters all seemed to be plucked from various of its gangster film
The bank robbery was over surprisingly fast and seemed to rely on very
little effort from the heist crew. The whole scheme was a little convenient.
Even to the point where the characters find an underground tunnel which
means they dont have to dig their way into the vault.
The pace which was kept up through out the film, added to the action
when the narrative took a sharp twist midway. From this point on the
plot became much darker and was pulled off with a certain amount of
ingenuity. Characters which had had the briefest mention in the early
scenes know lurked out of the murky London underworld. This including
David Suchet, who was surprisingly convincing as porn king come pimp
Lew vogue. Although his outfit did look like it was styled after Ronnie
Stathams character Terry Leather only comes to blows once in a
succinct, no nonsense action sequence over within a few seconds. This
might disappoint Statham fans who expect any of the adrenaline pumping
action of the Transporter films. His acting was a little wooden in places
but generally delivered with the brash masculinity you would expect
from his previous films. He was mostly let down by an amateurish script
which was crammed with cockney lines such as in the custard,
skulduggery and the old bill.
Saffron Burrows, playing Martine Love, the male eye candy in the film
did a good job in an uncomplicated and fairly two dimensional role.
Although her faux-East London accent did slip increasingly throughout
the film and had disappeared by the end.
Stephen Cambell Moore (the History Boys), as the best mate Kevin Swain
acted well in his supporting role, has actors ability far surpassing
Stathams. Die hard Statham fans that are willing to ignore its
plot holes and are up for a liberal helping of sex and crime may enjoy
this film. However there are far better examples of the genre and this
film has clearly borrowed heavily from them. You could be excused for
giving this one a miss.
© C.G. November
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