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The International Writers Magazine: Review

The Bank Job
Director: Rodger Donaldson
Writers: Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais
Reviewed by Callum Graham

When 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 70’s 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 didn’t matter to much as the characters all seemed to be plucked from various of its gangster film predecessors.

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 don’t 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 Barker.

Statham’s 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 Statham’s. 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 2008

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