The Bank Job

The Bank Job
Made in: Great Britain
Language: English
Director: Roger Donaldson
Starring: Jason Statham, Saffron Burrows, Richard Lintern, David Suchet, Keeley Hawes, Peter De Jersey, Rupert Frazer, Alki David, Stephen Campbell Moore, James Faulkner, Michael Jibson, Daniel Mays
Year: 2008

Synopsis: Based on the true story of the Baker Street Bank robbery that took place in Central London back in 1971, the plot involves a group of thieves who broke into the vault of one of the most secure banks in the nation...and made off with over 4 million pounds worth of loot.

Former petty criminal Terry Leather (Jason Statham) runs a slightly crooked used-car dealership with his pal Eddie (Michael Jibson). Although happily married to his wife Wendy (Keeley Hawes) and now a family man, he still owes money to some local gangsters and has very little time to pay off his debt.

One day Terry's former girlfriend Martine Love (Saffron Burrows) suckers him into participating in an elaborate bank robbery, which involves plundering the vault of a very secure bank on Baker Street.

Terry assembles a rag-tag crew, and they get to work. Since the bank's alarm system is temporarily disabled for repairs over the weekend, Terry and his team come up with a detailed scheme to tunnel underground and break in from underneath the vault floor.

But what's unknown to the crew is that Martine is secretly working for Tim Everett (Richard Lintern), an operative for MI-5 (Great Britain's domestic intelligence agency).

Having been busted at Heathrow Airport for smuggling drugs, Martine is avoiding jail time by cooperating with Everett. Essentially being blackmailed, she is told to recover a certain safe deposit box at the Baker Street Bank.

The contents are incriminating photographs of a female member of the Royal Family. The naughty pictures were secretly taken by Michael Abdul Malik, aka "Michael X" (Peter De Jersey), a notorious drug runner posing as an outspoken black civil rights activist.

As long as Michael X has the photos and threatens to go public with them, he can pretty much break whatever law he wants without getting busted.

Needless to say, the robbery by Terry and his crew causes a national uproar. But soon Terry and his crew find themselves in even more trouble as another set of incriminating photos involving Lord Drysdale (Rupert Frazer), a high-ranking government official, turn up among the stolen goodies.

Also among the hot items is the record-book of crime boss/pornographer Lew Vogel (David Suchet), which contains the names of corrupt police officers.

The Good: The Bank Job is highly entertaining. The plot is complex but fun, and Jason Statham, as his usual surly-looking self, gives the movie a lot of energy. The supporting cast is great, and Saffron Burrows, well-known to US audiences from the show Boston Legal, does a solid job alongside Statham.

The robbery element of The Bank Job is intriguing, but the real fun happens when the thieves find themselves having to deal with the aftermath of the heist. As complicated as the story gets, director Roger Donaldson prevents the plot from ballooning out of control and keeps the movie focused and tight.

The dry British humor is very clever in parts, and the entanglement of criminals, government agents, secrecy, and breaking the law in the name of national security creates a lot of humorous irony.

The Bad: Some of the English accents might be hard for us American viewers to get used to, and some of the culture-specific humor of life in London might be over our heads.

Who would like this movie: Although it's technically a foreign film, The Bank Job received mainstream distribution in US theaters despite the fact that Jason Statham isn't co-starring with Jet Li this time around.

In any case, this is a very entertaining, smart movie full of social/political commentary set against a dynamic time in British popular culture. You'll enjoy this movie if you like British stuff, spy intrigue, and if you're a fan of action movies with a subtle but hip indie edge.

(3 and 1/2 out of 4 stars)

Review written by: Joe Yang

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