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The Bank Job

Jason Statham in The Bank Job

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

ON THE surface, The Bank Job could be mistaken for another Cockney gangster film about the obligatory botched robbery and its violent aftermath, especially given the presence of a cast that includes Jason Statham and Saffron Burrows. But rather like the film itself, there’s a lot more going on beneath the surface and first impressions aren’t always correct.

For starters, the film is directed by Roger Donaldson, whose past hits include No Way Out, Thirteen Days and – most recently – The World’s Fastest Indian. And Secondly, the bank job itself is part of a much more elaborate conspiracy that makes for gripping viewing, particularly given its basis in reality.

It’s London, 1971, and dodgy, debt-ridden car dealer Terry (Jason Statham) is approached by successful model and former flame Martine (Saffron Burrows) to carry out a bank robbery that could be worth millions at a little-known bank in Baker Street. What Terry and crew don’t know is that the bank in question holds a number of safety deposit boxes – one of which holds damning evidence of a royal sex scandal that is currently being used as an insurance policy by a notorious black criminal who the government will stop at nothing to get.

If the job goes to plan, then the government can pull off the perfect cover up and rid Britain’s streets of one of its worst criminal elements. But it will also place Terry at the mercy of everyone involved and he must act fast to keep himself and his loved ones alive while figuring out who he really can trust.

Inspired by the “walkie-talkie robbery”, Britain’s biggest-ever cash haul that also involved an unknown quantity of valuable and illicit items, The Bank Job rattles along at a brisk old pace and benefits considerably from Donaldson’s proven ability to deliver a tense, lean thriller.

The Australian-born director wastes no time in setting the robbery in motion and then piles on the murder and deception as Terry attempts to get away clean. He also cleverly avoids naming names in the royal scandal, leaving viewers to deduce for themselves the princess behind the sordid sex photos, and possibly research more on their own time.

Performance-wise, Statham acquits himself well in a role that requires him to act more than usual, while Burrows provides a suitably alluring presence and is also better than she’s been in a long time.

But it’s the stellar supporting cast that helps to ensure viewers have plenty to sink their teeth into – whether it’s David Suchet as a sinister gangster with his hands in one too many pies, Peter Bowles as a sleazy government official, or James Faulkner and Daniel Mays as the hapless members of Terry’s gang.

The ending, too, is suitably exciting and Donaldson does well to ensure that all the loose ends are wrapped up in a satisfactory fashion.

The Bank Job is therefore a hugely enjoyable British heist movie that keeps you gripped for almost two hours and quite possibly intrigued enough to find out more about the conspiracy behind it.

Certificate: 15
Running time: 1hr 51mins
UK DVD Release Date: June 30, 2008