(a film review by Mark R. Leeper)

CAPSULE: When the high political powers in Britain, wanting a piece of "evidence" to disappear, arrange for a bank robbery to take place, the result is complex chaos. Jason Statham plays Terry Leather, a family man going through a bad patch who takes what appears to be a great opportunity to rob a bank. The robbery opens a legal and political Pandora's Box. This film is full of action and actual suspense. The wit of the story is not always obvious when watching the film, but does come out in retrospect. Rating: high +2 (-4 to +4) or 8/10

I never thought of myself as an aficionado of bank heist films. For one thing there are not all that many. DOG DAY AFTERNOON, like most of its predecessors in the subgenre, is enjoyable but not a film I have much enthusiasm for. But the last two bank heists I have seen were Spike Lee's THE INSIDE MAN and Roger Donaldson's THE BANK JOB. These are, in fact, surprisingly enjoyable films. Yet for movies so similar they are just about opposites. Neither is overtly a comedy, but in fact one is a comedy of order, the other a comedy of chaos. THE INSIDE MAN features a robbery plan that is incredibly well planned out. One sees it with the pleasure of seeing a complex but perfectly designed machine. Watching THE BANK JOB on the other hand is like watching someone carefully open a can not knowing that it is filled with tightly packed springy snakes. In THE BANK JOB the robbers themselves do not even know the real reasons why they are robbing the bank. (That is not a spoiler, by the way. It is clear from the first scenes that there is much more going on than meets the eye.)

THE BANK JOB is based on a true story. Actually there is not much known about the real Walkie-Talkie Robbery to base a film on. In 1971 robbers broke into a bank tunneling under two or three buildings to get to the bank. They stayed in contact with their lookout via walkie-talkies. But unknown to them an amateur radio hobbyist was intercepting their communication and was tipping off the police. The newspapers covered the story as very big news. This was more money stolen than in Britain's famous Great Train Robbery, after all. But shortly after the robbery all news suddenly stopped as the matter was apparently hushed up. There have been conspiracy theories about what really happened and now THE BANK JOB brings one explanation to the screen.

Using this spare known details of the story as a skeleton writers Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais flesh out a complex story. The story involves about eight levels of people from the Royal Family down to a seedy pornographer played by the always welcome David Suchet--best known as television's Hercule Poirot. Jason Statham is Terry Leather, a family man and car dealer down on his luck. When his old girlfriend Martine tips him off to a bank that would be temporarily vulnerable to rob, Leather sees this one bank job as the way out of his problems. Martine is play by Saffron Burrows who is attractive and whose acting talents seem just sufficient to the role. Stealing the contents of safety deposit boxes is relatively safe, Leather figures, because nobody wants to report what they lost to the police. This is not entirely true. People who cannot go to the police to recover their losses may be even more dangerous.

Frequently in films with bank robbers they are portrayed as teams that are either klutzes or geniuses. Unlike the robbers in THE INSIDE MAN, the gang in THE BANK JOB have believable levels of skill and luck. They are reasonably proficient but make mistakes and at times things just go wrong for them. That gives the film an air of credibility. With the writers and directors we are in good hand and there is an amazing degree of experience brought to bear on the making of this film. Writers Ian La Frenais and Dick Clement have been a writing team for more than forty years and twenty-seven films plus television. They worked together on the screenplays for films as different as NEVER SAY NEVER AGAIN, FLUSHED AWAY, and ACROSS THE UNIVERSE. They know what they are doing. Director Roger Donaldson had directed such diverse films as THE BOUNTY, COCKTAIL, SPECIES, DANTE'S PEAK, THIRTEEN DAYS, and THE WORLD'S FASTEST INDIAN.

This is as enjoyable and intelligent heist film as we have seen since THE INSIDE MAN and then for a good like time before. I rate THE BANK JOB a high +2 on the -4 to +4 scale or 8/10.

The British newspaper The Daily Mail discusses how close the film is to reality at . Be warned that some of the information could be considered movie spoiler to those unfamiliar with the case.

Film Credits:

					Mark R. Leeper
					Copyright 2008 Mark R. Leeper