Statham Burrows from the Bank ... well sort of
Whilst I enjoy a Jason Statham movie I had come to a point where they were becoming a blur as he played one similar character after another and I was half expecting the same issue from "The Bank Job". Thankfully "The Bank Job" is different as it is a good old fashioned heist movie and one which takes its lead from the true story of a bank job in 1971. Having said that whilst I am sure some of what goes on in the movie is based on the true story I get a sense that this is more fiction than fact but what enjoyable fiction it is. It has all the components you expect the planning, the robbery and the aftermath, it has action as well as humour and an array of wonderful characters. But more importantly director Roger Donaldson handles it all perfectly; he takes Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais' story and brings it to life, pacing it brilliantly so it never once becomes dull.
Not only is business slow for car dealer Terry Leather (Jason Statham - War) but he also owes money and he is under pressure from some heavies to pay up. So when former model Martine (Saffron Burrows - Deep Blue Sea) who has a thing for the married Terry shows up with a plan to rob a bank he becomes very interested. Assembling a team they tunnel under a Chicken shop and up into the bank's vault where the alarm has been turned off because of it being faulty. But whilst Terry and his team are after the money and jewels, Martine is after something else, incriminating photos of a Royal caught in a compromising act so that she can trade them to avoid going to prison for drug smuggling. But with there being more incriminating secrets than just dodgy photos in the vaults Terry and his team find themselves wanted not only by the police but also a Trinidadian gangsters, an owner of a chain of brothels and also MI5 or is it MI6.
So as already mentioned "The Bank Job" is based upon or at least inspired by the true story of a bank robbery back in September 1971 and for those who know the story will be able to spot some of the true events such as the renting of the shop and the tunnelling underneath another. But the blend of fact and fiction is so good that it doesn't feel like some serious retelling of what once happened but a cleverly crafted heist movie set in the 70s. And as such it has all those classic heist elements from the plan and putting the team together through to what happens afterwards. Plus of course you also have the robbery which is a fantastic series of scenes full of drama and humour.
But there is more to "The Bank Job" than just the robbery as there are those people who have secrets locked up in the safety deposit boxes within the banks vault. And so we have the Trinidadian mobster with photos of a royal having sex and then there are photos of aristocracy frequenting a bondage parlour plus a ledger of payments made to corrupt cops. It means that whilst we have the drama of the actual robbery you then have the drama of the robbers discovering what secrets they have uncovered and realising they are in a lot of shit. All of which is then tied up in a double cross as Martine is being forced to work for MI5 or MI6 having been caught smuggling drugs.
It's all very entertaining with a brilliant blend of drama, action and humour as we have close scrapes and the occasional bungle by are robbers. But it is also clever because whilst we have this gang committing a crime we are supporting them because those they end up robbing are nasty enough so that we dislike them more.
Now as already mentioned I had begun to find Jason Statham movies a bit too similar and whilst you do get an element of that stereotypical Stratham character in "The Bank Job" with him being a Cockney wide boy who can kick butt if need be it ends up just a small part of the character. Instead we have him playing the tough talking leader of the robbers with an eye for a pretty woman and a sarcastic attitude and it works. And to be honest all the cast work from Saffron Burrows being sexy as double crosser Martine, David Suchet as the seedy Lew Vogel through to Peter Bowles who as Miles Urquart has something to do with MI5 or is it MI6.
What this all boils down to is that "The Bank Job" is not quite up there at the top of the heist movie lists with the likes of the original "The Italian Job" but it is very close. With a mix of fact and fiction, drama and humour as well as some action "The Bank Job" is very much a classic heist movie and one which bounds along through the various expected elements at a perfect pace.