Monday, June 6, 2011

The Bank Job (2008)


First up, do not be bogged down by the title..."The Bank Job" is not yet another done to death formula featuring the bank robbers' "one last heist before going clean, that has to go wrong"...something that you may have seen in countless pictures recently. If it is any consolation, this is quite possibly one of the most refreshingly original caper movies I've seen in recent times..quite different from the usual fare; what's more, it is based on the true story of the 1971 Baker Street Robbery of central London (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baker_Street_robbery).

It is kinda difficult to put down the plot synopsis of "The Bank Job" in words...I mean there is so much going on here, you hardly have time to blink. But I will make an attempt to state it in a nutshell (I hope).

1970: Somewhere in the Caribbean, a raunchy threesome act is being captured on camera by an unknown person.

1971: A militant gangster and a self-proclaimed black revolutionary and civil rights activist by the name of Michael X (Peter de Jersey) is operating freely and carrying on with his activities without fear of the metropolitan police, because he has a trump card under his sleeve which renders him untouchable. He claims to have scandalous pictures of a British Royal, Princess Margaret in compromising positions (possibly the aforementioned incident in the Caribbean?).

The pictures are believed to be hidden away in a safety deposit box in the vault of Lloyds Bank and it is the task of the MI5 (Military Intelligence, Section 5) to retrieve these pictures somehow and save themselves and the Royal family a lot of embarrassment. Tim Everett (Richard Lintern) a shrewd MI5 operative has been given the difficult task, which is to become "The Bank Job". Can he pull it off?

Parallel stories centering around one mobster by the name of Vogel (David Suchet) who keeps a record of all the corrupt cops he has to pay off to run his business, and a high class brothel owner Sonia (Sharon Maughan), whose clients include some top government officials somehow find a way into this chaotic situation!


One has to compliment director Roger Donaldson. He does a pretty solid job of handling the taut screenplay by Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais, one where there are so many characters involved, yet at no point are we confused about any particular character regarding his/her purpose in the film and the basis of his/her actions. It all plays out smoothly and the proceedings are clear enough, in spite of the razor sharp editing by John Gilbert. Things move at breakneck speed in this film and you don't have time to even blink or go in the kitchen to grab a drink or a snack. Right from the first frame, featuring T. Rex's "Get it on", "The Bank Job" sucks you into its rapid pulsating rhythm that never lets up and keeps you on the edge of your seat. Like all British crime thrillers, this one is stylishly shot and with a slightly sepia tone (to get that "70s" feel perhaps?). But while at the outset it may seem to look like a "Lock Stock..." like crime thriller with a crime scenario juxtaposed with a dose of dark humour, so is not the case, as "The Bank Job" takes a pretty serious tone in the latter half.

The film picks up more steam in the latter half when 'the job' is on the verge of completion and is eventually discovered. It is here that things start to take an unexpected turn for everyone involved and they try their best to stay afloat in the whole matter. Thankfully none of the events or outcomes seem forced (well...maybe barring one or a couple at the most) or unconvincing and it all falls in place, leading us to a fairly satisfying ending. Some situations may seem a tad implausible, but then let's not forget that this is a true story and minor instances of cinematic liberties taken by the filmmakers are excusable in this kind of a film.

The actors..most of them do a decent job; Jason Statham does his job dependably well, but for some reason doesn't get the 70s look right, and looks just like he did in Transporter, with the addition of a week old stubble. Keeley Hawes is good too in a small role as Statham's wife. David Suchet, Saffron Burrows and Richard Lintern are just fine.

Check out "The Bank Job". It is a well-made, thrilling tale of sleaze, scandal and corruption and could very well be one of the finest caper films of recent times.

Recommended!

Rating: 8/10.

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