86 of 89 people found the following review helpful
Set in London in the early 1970s, THE BANK JOB is based on real life events. A group of would be criminals is set up by MI5 (or 6, no one can keep them straight) to rob a bank and regain compromising photos of a royal personage. Unfortunately for our gang, not only were the photos in question (which were the "property" of corrupt revolutionary Michael X) kept in a safe deposit box at this bank, but so were the secrets and lies of many famous and infamous people, including the payola ledgers of a porn kingpin and the photo files of a well-placed local madam. Everybody who was anybody, from the cops on the beat up to the Lords of the Realm, was implicated in some scandal by the evidence from this notorious bank robbery.
THE BANK JOB is a fun, exciting, tension-filled romp. These amateur crooks catch more breaks and have more close calls than you would imagine possible. While the film does slightly bog down on occasion, for the most part the pacing builds just the right amount of suspense with these twists and turns of fate. In several places, my heart was actually racing. By the end, our villains are the heroes, and everyone gets what they truly deserve.
I really liked the cinematography of this film. THE BANK JOB actually looks like it was filmed in the 1970s. At one point, I double-checked with my husband to confirm that it was a recent movie. The effect used is very convincing, producing a very authentic look. The ensemble cast was quite good, performing as a cohesive unit, but no individual really standing out.
THE BANK JOB is a great movie for an entertaining evening at home. My husband and I really had a lot of fun. And we got to learn a little history from the 1970s as well.
34 of 35 people found the following review helpful
THE BANK JOB is a bit of a throwback to a different kind of crime movie. In this day and age, most heist movies are super high-tech (THE ITALIAN JOB, any of the OCEAN'S movies) and usually an occasion for big name stars to do a little slumming. They may be lots of fun, but they are also sleek and modern. But THE BANK JOB takes place in 1970, and it is a gritty little period piece.
There's no mistaking it for a film actually MADE in 1970. There's too much graphic sex and nudity, the language is too harsh. Also, star Jason Statham's hair isn't what you'd see in the 70s. But it feels very specific to its time and is refreshingly low tech. Jackhammers, shovels, walkie-talkies. It's in a time WAY before computers on every desk and cell phones in every pocket. No internet. No email. Just rotary dial telephones. A time before criminals worried about leaving DNA evidence behind.
It's based on or inspired by the true story of the most lucrative bank robbery in British history (some 4 million pounds). The robbers dug a tunnel underneath a couple of shops and emerged beneath the vault of a branch of Lloyds bank. They opened all the safety deposit boxes and disappeared with a wide and sundry list of items. Apparently, many, many of the box owners declined to tell what items were stolen from them, so the filmmakers have created a rather elaborate scheme involving blackmail, homegrown terrorists, prostitution and miscellaneous indiscretions at the highest levels of government to "explain" why so many folks were too ashamed to admit what they kept stored in the vault. It's a complex little plot, but it is neatly put together and actually fairly fun to follow.
Jason Statham is the nominal leader of a gang of minor criminals who are lured into going for "one big job" by Saffron Burrows, a former school chum who grew up and left their low-class neighborhood to become a model. After a serious brush with the law, she's given a second chance by agreeing to convince her old chums to rob this bank. Easy pickings, she tells them. Of course, she has been directed to recover a specific, highly incendiary packet of photos. Photos that several warring factions want to get, and they'll use just about any means at their disposal to do so.
We've got a wide assortment of bad guys, ranging from simply nasty to murderously insane. Into this brew our group of eager but mostly incompetent robbers are thrown. With a mixture of luck, force of will and some innate, brute cleverness, they muddle their ways through.
I don't want to reveal too many specifics of the plot, because the primary fun of this film IS the plot. The characters are loosely drawn...we just get enough on everyone to stereotype them. The movie is packed with characters, and moves at such a brisk pace that there really isn't time for depth. There are some super tense scenes when a ham radio operator picks up the conversations between the robbers and their lookout...will the cops figure out which bank is being robbed in time? There are lots of unusual touches like that throughout the movie.
THE BANK JOB also features Jason Statham's best performance to date. I realize that might not being saying much. His prior films, whether good or not, didn't exactly thrive on his subtleties as a performer, but rather on his brute persona and fighting skills. In this film, I believe he's finally emerged with a credible, engaging performance. Except for one brief scene at the end, he never is compelled to violence, so he has to rely on his wits and his charm. Both are on display here, so even if the movie isn't a huge hit, I think Statham might start taking on some more juicy work in the future.
This is an adult caper movie. As I hinted, it deserves its R rating. But it sure is a lot of fun, and while it no doubt will be gone soon from the collective memory, it is well worth your time.
34 of 38 people found the following review helpful
on July 17, 2008
I wasn't really interested in The Bank Job until I caught Ebert and Roeper on the tube and heard mucho praise from Richard Roeper, as well as, the guest critic at the time. I wouldn't put this on my top ten of the year list, but it was suspenseful and downright entertaining from start to finish. I'm not the biggest Jason Statham fan, mainly because he always looks and sounds the same in every role, but here he shows a little more range and is quite likeable. Overall, this is a worthy rental that got overlooked by many during it's theatrical run.
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on July 20, 2008
Think "Snatch" & "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels"!
Good movie, Jason Statham rarely disappoints and doesn't once again in "The Bank Job"!
I wasn't sure about this movie, the preview looked good, several sketchy reviews said otherwise. As usual, the big time, well known reviewers were wrong!
The movie keeps you guessing with twists and turns, best yet, it was apparently written about the actual 1971 true-life robbery of a bank in Baker Street, London, from which the money and valuables stolen were never recovered.
Don't miss out on "The Bank Job"!
13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Set in the swinging London of 1971, "The Bank Job" is a riotously fun heist film that's loosely based on actual events. Known then as the "walkie-talkie bank job," it was the biggest bank robbery of its time and probably the most controversial. Apparently, the loot from this heist did not consist merely of cash and jewels, but some rather more important documents that could embarrass the royal family.
The heist is prompted, really, by the British government's inability to incarcerate a criminal slumlord and pimp, Michael Abdul Malik, known as Michael X (Peter De Jersey). A self-styled gadfly and pseudo-Black-Panther wannabe from Trinidad, he holds a get-out-of-jail card in the form of photographs he'd taken earlier of a Very Improper Personage (later to surface as Princess Margaret) in very compromising...uh...positions with lovers during an island escapade. These photos are kept in his safe deposit box at Lloyds Bank. Also in one of the boxes is a ledger kept by the smut king Lew Vogel (played by the versatile David Suchet), detailing payoffs to crooked cops, and another box kept by a `Madame,' the contents of which depict certain MPs in...uh...non-parliamentary scenarios. Evidently, everyone's been a naughty boy and girl.
Meanwhile, a former model with East End roots, Martine Love (Saffron Burrows), is aided by a her lover, an MI5 spook, in beating the rap for transporting drugs into the UK. In exchange, she has to call on her petty criminal friends to break into the Lloyd's Bank vault and retrieve the compromising photos of said VIP. Innocent of the true motive behind the heist, her friend Terry Leather (Jason Statham) agrees to the proposition, himself needing fast cash to pay off debts to some scary thugs. The crew consists of Terry, Martine, Terry's friends Kevin Swain (Stephen Campbell Moore), Dave Shilling (Daniel Mays), and Eddie Burton (Michael Jibson), and outside help in a Maj. Guy Singer (con artist extraordinaire), and Bambas (a tunneling expert). The plan is to take over the lease of a handbag store, Le Sac, and tunnel from its underground to the chicken take-out store adjacent to the bank, and finally into the bank's vault itself. (Their total loot was reportedly £4M.) Terry suspects that Martine is hiding something, and as things get even more complicated, the crew finds themselves chased by the MI5, the cops, and Vogel's henchmen, as well as engaging in a bargain brokered by Lord Mountbatten himself! (Absurdly hilarious, but who knows? Real life is stranger than fiction.)
Terrific acting all throughout, especially by Statham, and lots of twists and turns to keep things fresh. Swinging London was depicted extraordinarily well; production values were superb. A bit of comic dialogue and scenes in between ups the fun factor. One of the DVD extras which shows photos of the actual crime scene, especially the tunnel dug through Le Sac, were quite interesting. Comparing them to the film, the meticulous duplication of details was remarkable. The heist itself was audacious and entertaining, but it's the back-stories that bring real excitement into this. The actual heist is a true story but the damning photos are mere conjecture. A D-Notice (a sort of gag-the-press action) was issued at the time of the real events and it never surfaced as fact that the photos were indeed of Princess Margaret. She did have a party-girl image in the 1960s, and her exploits were fodder for the British rags. Michael X himself was hanged in Trinidad in 1975, but his file still remains closed until 2054. Though the robbery made the headlines, it quickly died down only after a few days. What was really behind all this? Well, that's left for the viewer to speculate. After all, that's part of the entertainment.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on August 6, 2008
Coinciding with the DVD release, a review in the Wall Street Journal suggested that this was a superb film. And it IS a superb film but for reasons far different than what I anticipated - since the review was not exactly going into many details. [Aside to the reviewer who complained about "sex" - duh, where? I abhor those kinds of scenes and there was merely suggestiveness in this film rather than the boring full-blown sex that passes for "entertainment" these days. Although I will concede that a couple of the violence scenes were not my cup of tea; I am not much into violence but it was easy to ignore the minor incidences because they did not go overboard and were not gratuitous in showing violence at every turn like one so often sees in films these days.]
One great thing about this movie is that everything is totally believable and realistic...you could actually imagine the things (good, bad, idiotic and otherwise) actually happening! An excellent portrayal of people's pressure points - and why sometimes their actions are not driven from within but from without. In spades. It was just delightful from beginning to end in the characters whose stories were told.
I am a foreign film buff and this film is more in line with that type of film than the awful stuff that passes for "entertainment" from Hollywood.
By the end of the film, I was really hoping that the last scene(s) were true. It was nice to believe, but one never really knows which parts are truly close to the fact and which are fiction for the audience to enjoy. It did nail the 70's so brilliantly that I thought I was back reliving those days again - even though it was Britain and not the US.
Another bonus is that it managed to portray corruption a la LA Confidential, so if you liked that movie, then you will also enjoy this one - probably enjoy it more than LA Confidential because it is more believable from beginning to end.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
"The Bank Job" stretches the truth of the 1971 heist of Lloyd's Baker Street Bank in London into a smart, entertaining political thriller. Ex-model Martine Love (Saffron Burrows) is having a fling with MI5 bureaucrat Tim Everett (Richard Lintern) when she lands in hot water over a drug charge. In exchange for her freedom, Martine convinces some old friends that the safe deposit vault at Lloyd's is ripe for the picking. Terry (Jason Statham) is a slightly shady car dealer with a history of small-time crime and a shine for Martine. Kevin (Stephen Campbell Moore) is a photographer ex-boyfriend, and Dave (Daniel Mays) and old pal. Together, they plot and execute a £4 million heist, but, unbeknownst to the thieves, the real danger lies in the secrets, not the money, that the safe deposit boxes hold.
"The Bank Job" is a blend of fact, speculation, fabrication, and real events that have been connected in a highly speculative fashion. The bank robbery did happen more or less as presented, but there was apparently a D-notice issued by MI5 several days later that forbid the press from speaking further of the crime for reasons of national security. Even stranger, the thieves were eventually caught, convicted, and served prison sentences, but all in secret. Their names have never been revealed. Because no one knows who they are, the characters in the movie are fictional. The real robbery was certainly not orchestrated by MI5, who need only present a warrant if they want access to a safe deposit box, but the agency does seem to have taken an interest after the fact. The idea that photos of a frolicking royal were at the heart of the matter is based on secondhand information, and speculation about a connection to Michael Abdul Malik is due to his having a box in that Lloyd's vault.
The "based on a true story" tag in the movie's logo is misleading, but there were some strange and bewildering aspects to the Lloyd's Baker Street Bank robbery which remain mysterious to this day. "The Bank Job" takes the speculation, ties it all together with some pure fiction, and creates a top-notch political thriller with great 1970s period atmosphere. It's all very cynical toward government and law enforcement, and, in that way, perhaps it reflects the mood in 1971 and 2008 as well. Honorable thieves, corrupt cops, hypocritical security services and politicians, raunchy royals, sex, violence, greed, sleaze...this movie packs it all into a tight, suspenseful package. I'm surprised "The Bank Job" didn't do better at the box office. With plenty of intrigue and thrills, i's the best movie I've seen so far in 2008.
The DVD (Lions Gate 2008 single disc): The single disc edition includes 2 featurettes, a feature commentary, and a theatrical trailer. "Inside the Bank Job" (16 min) is a making-of documentary that interviews director Roger Donaldson, writers Ian Le Frenais and Dick Clement, producers, cast, and some crew about the film's tone, locations, production design, story, and the large cast. "The Baker Street Bank Raid" (15 min) is about the real robbery. The ham radio operator who picked up the thieves' transmission is interviewed, as well as some historians, journalists about the robbery and the suspicious aspects of the case. There is a feature commentary by director Donaldson, actress Saffron Burrows, and composer J. Peter Robinson. It's a constant commentary but not very focused or informative. Subtitles for the film are available in English and Spanish.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
THE BANK JOB is first class entertainment - a well-written script (Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais) with many twists and turns, face paced direction (Roger Donaldson), and a reliable cast of actors who know this genre well. AND it is all based on a true event from 1970 when a bank heist in London resulted in a number of falls of the heads of government who were locking away their 'dirty underwear' in the safety deposit boxes of a quiet bank on Baker Street. A great, unique movie this is not, but it is one that provides close to two hours of complex but highly suspenseful antics that keep the viewer glued to the screen.
Terry Leather (Jason Statham) isn't making it as a car salesman and has debts to pay to the crime world. He meets an old sweetheart Martine Love (Saffron Burrows) who proposes that Terry and his friends rob a bank that is due for security repairs and a fairly surefire safe means to instant wealth. Martine just happens to be working with a fellow who wants some rasty photographs of Princess Margaret in questionable sexual liaisons and has Martine setup the 'easy heist'. Terry and friends agree to the too-good-to-be-true venture and begin to burrow into the bank vault under cover of night and clever means. Once the 'keystone cops' of London arrive on the scene the comedy portion begins, but when Terry, Martine and friends successfully achieve their goal, all manner of complications occur and the ways in which police and governmental corruption color the picture makes for a solid ending. As a fine addendum, the true facts of this actual heist and resulting events are flashed on the screen before the closing credits.
The cast (including such fine actors as Stephen Campbell Moore, Daniel Mays, Alki David, James Faulkner et al) seems to have a great time with the caper and there is just the right balance between suspense and comedy to make the movie work. And oh the secrets about naughty England we discover! Grady Harp, July 08
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on July 15, 2008
If you've seen any of Jason Statham's past films than you've effectively seen his newest DVD release: The Bank Job. More The Italian Job than Crank, though, The Bank Job is action packed, but it, too, is not simply a "shoot-em-up" popcorn flick; much thought goes into who the men and women on-screen are and what their motivations are for getting into the line of work that they do. Full of mind games (between characters and with the audience) and twists involving the sordid sexual histories of important government power players, The Bank Job is flashy and sensational in a way that screams Hollywood formula... and yet it was based on actual evens.
Directed by Roger Donaldson, The Bank Job attempts an intricate look at the elaborate layers of covert deceit that supposedly went into the United Kingdom's greatest bank robbery of all time. By all accounts, Statham's Terry Leather-- a man in over his head with some very bad people who gets hired to rob a safety deposit box and unknowingly stumbles onto some compromising photos of members of the royal family--should be a sexy character. He (partially just due to Statham's bright eyes and wry smile) is somehow soft and gentle (at least by comparisons to some of Statham's earlier work) as the family man who just got in over his head and is now forced into a new way of life. He flits between puppy dog eyes and suave masculinity, offering subtle hints of the rough and tumble bad guy persona for which women (and okay, a few men) everywhere have fallen.
The Bank Job tries desperately to be a cool and sexy film, and in most areas it does succeed. Donaldson and his Cinematographer, Michael Coulter, captured the essence of the 1970s with everything from shot design to color schemes to focusing on the wardrobe and scenery, all which screamed "period piece." In keeping with the thematic emphasis of showcasing new media and technology, The Bank Job was shot in HD, which gives its images a crisp, clear view of a somewhat hazy world: on one hand, Leather is a petty criminal, committing a serious offense, but on the other, he is taking down those far worse than he, and he is doing it for all the right reasons. Most importantly, though, The Bank Job makes the audience yearn to be apart of its world, even when its seedy: you want to live in that era, and you want to be in Leather's company.
The use of "cutting edge" technology in The Bank Job should also be something about which to get excited: deemed the "Walkie Talkie Robbery" of 1971, the star of the event is really the ham radio that picks up their own radio signals and clues in the police force. Unfortunately Donaldson does often choose to linger instead on the extremely literal depictions of what's sexy on screen: a topless woman swimming in the ocean, for example, which is an image that opens the film, as well as his female lead, Saffron Burrows, as the temptress who propositions Leather with the job offer. At times the film is a bit gratuitous. Though each crew member (from Stephen Campbell Moore to James Faulkner) has their own back story which manages to get semi-fleshed out, as a whole The Bank Job follow Leather's journey, and therefore his friends fall by the wayside a little bit, getting somewhat lost in the in the stereotypical traps of fictionalizing a real life drama into an action flick.
The two-disc version of The Bank Job on DVD includes a commentary by Donaldson, Burrows, and Composer J. Peter Robinson, which isn't half bad if you can get past the fact that the film's star is noticeably absent from the recording session. There are the obligatory deleted scenes, all which total out at under ten minutes and don't offer anything that isn't already depicted in the film in a more succinct way, making it pretty obvious why these were left on the proverbial cutting room floor. The standard behind-the-scenes featurette this time is "Inside The Bank Job," which is just as straight forward as it sounds but does offer some insight into the project past simple reminiscence or fluffy hype. However, "The Baker Street Bank Raid" is hands-down the most interesting "extra:" a featurette for those who are interested in true crime, in addition to cinema's depiction of such events, as it focuses on historical footage and interviews from the 1970s, cutting back and forth between the real life bank robbery and how it was depicted in the film. The only special feature on the second disc is a digital copy of the film, making the extra few dollars you will spend on that version entirely superfluous.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on July 2, 2008
Based on the1970s true story about a group of amateur crooks who rob a British bank and get away with a little more than some cash and jewels. They think they have a once in a lifetime opportunity when they find out the bank's security system is temporarily out of service. What they don't know is that they're being used by government agents to retrieve some incriminating photos of a princess caught in the act of engaging in some undiscriminating sexual behavior. Before they know it, they are being hunted down by government agents, police and mobsters who were storing their own incriminating evidence in those very same safety deposit boxes.
"The Bank Job" is an edge of your seat heist movie. The fact that it is based on true events make this film all that much more interesting. Don't get the feeling that your getting an "Oceans" type heist movie. No high tech gadgetry or disguises here. It's shovels and jackhammers, a good ol' get your hands dirty robbery.
Jason Statham proves once and for all that he is capable of being a good actor. He nearly goes the entire movie without hitting somebody. Overall the entire cast was brilliant. "The Bank Job" has enough action, plot twists and suspense to keep you entertained throughout and will leave you feeling fully satisfied when the credits roll.