The Bank Job
It shouldn’t take this many people to encourage Saffron to eat something.

Theatrical Release Date: 03/07/2008
Director: Roger Donaldson
Cast: Jason Statham, Saffron Burrows

Do you want to see a thrilling heist flick with twists and turns so numerous and clever you’ll crap your pants!?! I’m sorry, what? This review is for “The Bank Job”? Oh … well … it’s a movie … about robbing a bank … with some twists … though they aren’t all that clever … but it is based on a true story! Yeah, that’s the ticket.

Can you guess that I wasn’t quite blown away by Jason Statham’s latest “joint”? After seeing the trailer, I had expected a few thrills, a little action and that famous British wit. However, what’s on-screen is a decent (but rather dull) look at one heck of an interesting caper pulled off in England during 1971.

Essentially, a notorious drug dealer had taken some scandalous photographs of a royal family member and was using their existence to keep the British Government from prosecuting him. Wanting to remain in a position of believable deniability, the shadowy sector of the government hire some thieves to rob the bank where the photos are being held. The thieves don’t realize the true intent behind their job and what ensues is a not so tense game of cat and mouse.

This is yet again another example of a film having a misleading trailer in the hopes of inflating its opening weekend. Looking back at its $5.94 million domestic U.S. take, it appears the studio should have just gone with the truth. I’m not entirely sure I would have changed my rating but I would have had a more positive sounding review, that’s for sure.

I say that because as a dramatization of an actual event, this isn’t bad. The filmmakers made 1970′s London look and feel genuine (though I’ve seen that people have already found a few anachronisms but I’ll let that slide against the effort as a whole). The underlying story is very interesting and given a more thorough effort, this had the source material for a very good film.

Also, most of the acting is decent, though I did have a few misgivings. First, the actors portraying British spies seemed a little too campy for me, reminding me of stock brokers Randolph and Mortimer from “Trading Places”. The cops (or bobbies, if you prefer) were portrayed rather well but having such a difference between the two law enforcement agencies was a tad confusing.

More importantly, I just can’t come around to enjoying Saffron Burrows’ performances. Part of that is associating her with such fine feature films as “Deep Blue Sea” and “Wing Commander”. Another part is being utterly creeped out by her often emaciated figure. If you’ve seen “Troy”, she was the undead skeleton. If you watch “Boston Legal” or this film, you’ll just be wondering if Sally Struthers will accept donations for her. Talking strictly about her performance, it was okay – but those perceptions make it hard for me to see much else.

Another element I would have hoped the filmmakers could improve upon was the bank robbers’ team chemistry. There just wasn’t enough character development between anyone not given top billing. I think getting to know the other members of the crew would have helped me to connect with the film.

Not surprisingly, with all of my misgivings, I’m going to give “The Bank Job” a 2 out of 5. Having a different expectations (i.e., this is a thinking man’s heist film, don’t expect any action) might have helped but with the other issues I had – probably not. I mean, for the love of all that’s holy, “Entrapment” has way more pace and action to it!

If you’re looking for a decent heist film, try “The Italian Job” (I’ve only seen the remake, ask someone else if the original is as well paced). At least that film delivers on what it promises. You could also go for something with more meat on it and try “Heat” or one of last year’s best films, “The Lookout“. Any of those will deliver a more satisfying experience and at a lower cost, leaving more scratch around to find a better film to plunk the big bucks down on in theaters.