Director – Roger Donaldson
Writer – Dick Clement, Ian La Frenais
Starring – Jason Statham, Saffron Burrows, Stephen Campbell Moore, Daniel Mays, James Faulkner
British crime movies are hard to come by in a movie world overtaken by Americans in this particularly genre. Either the money and scope isn’t as grand over here or home grown British filmmakers have just fled to the States to make their movies. So it’s nice to see a good old-fashioned crime caper from this side of the pond even if it isn’t what it could have been. But even so it’s still nice to see a change in scenery every once in a while.
After a friend from his past comes to him with the proposition of robbing a bank, Terry (Statham) thinks it over, agrees and then recruits his friends to be part of the team. Their mission is to steal the contents of security deposit boxes but once they do the team find more than they expected to.
There may not be much new about The Bank Job, a pretty much by the book crime caper with the only difference from regular movies of this type being that it’s set in the close-knit streets of London instead of a larger, grander city in the United States. At least on the surface this provides for a pleasing change of location to the usual kind we are used to, so it as something going for it right off the bat.
So originality evidently isn’t the key to The Bank Job’s more positive attributes but sometimes if the formula’s right then a movie is free to use it and that’s exactly what this one does. It tells the regular storyline of a group of at-first reluctant but soon eager semi-criminals and villains who plan to rob a bank but hidden agendas are thrown into the mix that will unravel as the movie goes on. And although there is a couple of side storylines that add some extra layers onto cinematic cake, in and of themselves they are still the sort of stuff we have seen plenty of times in plenty of other movies.
When it comes to acting the film is a mixed bag. Statham is his usual cheeky and watchable self, effortlessly playing the type of character he’s used to in the type of movie he’s even more used to. He can play this kind of role in his sleep but that doesn’t stop him from being the likeable leading man for cinema goers alike.
Supporting him is a few British faces that you will recognize from somewhere or other in various other movies and TV shows. Daniel Mays, recently seen in a refreshing role in last year’s Atonement, adds one-liners and a general cheeky manner to comfortably accompany Statham’s leading man. And other such folk at James Faulkner, playing probably one of the most clichéd characters of the film, and Stephen Campbell Moore, who’s similar to Mays’ character, provide support and a supposed backbone to the film. But it’s the addition of Saffron Burrows that really had me begging for a different choice of casting. Her character is clichéd and 2D in almost every way, and Burrows herself is both unconvincing and wooden as ever. So not the perfect choice of cast but fortunately Statham and others provide a positive balance to Burrows’ decisively negative addition.
Probably The Bank Job’s biggest downfall is its uneven style and pace. It starts off as an intriguing thriller, in the vain of such films as The Italian Job remake and the Ocean’s series, about criminals taking a once in a lifetime opportunity. It then quickly changes in a dark gangster film when two men are sent to collect money that Statham’s character allegedly owes. The tone changes back to lighter, Snatch-like comedic crime film as we see the robbery unfold then it changes to an almost soap opera/sitcom style film when Statham deals with his wife, kids and how his past is affecting present day situations. So needless to say the film is awkwardly and at times annoyingly uneven as far as what it’s intending to be. It strives to be a few kinds of films in one, something which only extremely gifted filmmakers can pull off well, when it should have just tried to be one. Something tells me it would have been a hell of a lot more successful.
What ultimately won me over about The Bank Job was just the refreshing difference in setting and faces that we are used to seeing in movies like this. Statham is, as always, a very likeable and entertaining leading man even if his role here isn’t exactly outwith his comfort zone. It may not come close to rivalling some of America’s equivalents but The Bank Job has enough there to be a good, old-fashioned entertaining crime caper.