The Bank Job (2008)

Categories: Movie Reviews
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Published on: 2008.03.10

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IMDb: The Bank Job
Wikipedia: The Bank Job
Rating: R
(nudity, profanity, violence)
Length: 110 min (1:50)
Director: Roger Donaldson
Genre: Thriller / Action
My Rating: 8 of 10
Family Friendly: Probably not. There are quite a few bare breasts and sex scenes (not necessarily at the same time), and profanity is spread throughout the film. There’s also some violence/torture that you may not want your kids to see.
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ONE-SENTENCE REVIEW:
After the polished, comfortable, glib heist films like Ocean’s 11 (and 12, and 13), this was a welcome relief.

MAIN STARS:
Jason Statham, Saffron Burrows, Stephen Campbell Moore, Daniel Mays, James Faulkner, Alki David, Michael Jibson, Georgia Taylor

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This movie is supposedly based on a true story, though that’s difficult to determine, since many of the alleged facts of the real-life story were never revealed publicly, having reportedly been kept secret by the British government.

So… Is it really true? I don’t know. Don’t really care. The movie was excellently done. Let’s just assume it’s fiction. Still amazing.

The story is set in 1971, when a member of the British Royal Family (identified as Princess Margaret in the movie) was apparently photographed having a threesome with a man and another women. Those photographs, owned by a black-power figure, were held in a safety-deposit box in a London bank, with the intention of being used as blackmail, to keep this black-power figure safe from prosecution.

Jason Statham plays Terry, a low-level street figure with petty criminal friends, who gets conned into organizing a bank robbery. The British government wants to get the incriminating photos destroyed, without it being known that the government had a hand in the robbery. So, MI5 gets Martine (Saffron Burrows) to talk to Terry. She doesn’t tell Terry who she’s doing it for, but he soon becomes suspicious.

Terry and his friends aren’t bank robbers by trade, so they make many rookie mistakes (using each other’s names on the radio, using a jackhammer underground during business hours, getting recognized while scouting the job, etc.) But they pull it off, and most of them manage to avoid retribution from the police and other powerful folks who keep secret items in the safe-deposit boxes.

A civilian ham radio operator overhears the robbers’ conversations and reports it to police, who begin checking local banks for such a heist (the police aren’t aware of MI5’s involvement or the contents of the bank’s boxes).

Terry and his friends are able to play the MI5 against the police, and against other crime figures who’re trying to protect their own interests, which would be revealed by the theft of the boxes.

In real life, news outlets reported some facts about the robbery, but were censored after four days by the British Government. This is part of why it’s so difficult to determine which parts of the film are true and which parts are fictionalized.

The action in the movie is fast-paced and realistic, and all the characters play their parts so convincingly that it’s easy to believe it’s all actually happening. The profanity and violence doesn’t seem to be gratuitous, simply things that would have actually happened, given the circumstances and characters involved.

My wife complained about the over-use of bare female breasts in the movie (of course, I found nothing wrong with it). However, considering that many of the underworld characters involved were running brothels and strip clubs, those scenes would not have seemed realistic if the women had been fully clothed. I don’t know how many movies I’ve seen that felt ultra-fake because there weren’t any naked women in the strip clubs.

Overall, the movie was engaging, well-filmed, and relatively easy to follow.

I personally have complaints against some British-made films (for instance, Snatch and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels) because some of the colloquial British accents are so difficult to understand. But I didn’t have that problem with most of The Bank Job.

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