Directed by: Roger Donaldson
Written by: Dick Clement & Ian La Frenais
Starring: Jason Statham, Saffron Burrows, Richard Lintern, Keeley Hawes, Michael Jibson
Heist films always seem to provide some nice entertainment. They usually have a group of folks trying to steal from those with more money and probably evil, which justifies their intent in committing the crime. The lighter ones typically lack any real stakes if the robbery goes wrong, which The Bank Job provides in spades.
Struggling garage owner, Terry (Jason Statham) gets propositioned the opportunity to rob some safety deposit boxes at a local bank by an old friend, Martine (Saffron Burrows). While never having actually robbed a bank, the opportunity to get a high amount of cash gives Terry and his crew all the motivation they need to pull it off.
I always find it enjoyable watching a crew operate a heist job because it shows a collaboration of experts accomplishing a goal. Seeing the completion of that task provides a deep level of satisfaction that I never thought I needed. What I came to enjoy about this film is that these characters aren’t perfect. It’s hard not to compare to Ocean’s Eleven, which probably has remained the most popular heist movie in pop culture. All of those characters specialize in something, which would make their exclusion from the operation dangerous. That does not happen to be the case in The Bank Job.
It feels very British with the scruff of these characters and their collaboration has some serious bumps. Those moments provide some fun comedy, because they’re not experts in this type of work and what they’re stealing contains very sensitive information. The idea to steal the safety deposit boxes seems brilliant because the contents would be so sensitive that those who would report the materials stolen would hesitate to disclose what the items may be. Depending on the bank, the contents may be worth millions, and for the sake of this heist movie, it happens to belong to some very dangerous people. It all sets up for an ulterior motive that goes over the head of the small-time criminals that Terry happens to lead.
The grander conspiracy follows some lewd photos of Princess Margaret having sexual relations that were captured and that specific box fixates the attention of Martine. It sets off another chain of events that really raises the stakes of the story, which almost shifts the mood completely. A switch that does not happen too gracefully, but it adds a different layer to a story that could have just been fixated on the heist. Characters in the film die and suffer for their actions, which surprised me but it definitely let you know that things are no longer a laughing matter.
Jason Statham puts in a charming performance as Terry before he completely goes off the deep end in the 2010s with his over-the-top action movies. Even with being a thief, Terry has some semblance of integrity that drives his character. All of the other characters add their sprinkles of lovable incompetence and a strong sense of self-seriousness to balance the levity and the harshness of the consequences. The crew assembled builds a nice rapport that makes it all the more sad when they start to suffer the consequences of their heist.
The Bank Job would not rank as one of the greater heist films, but it still brings the fun this genre provides with the added weight of real danger coming for the characters. It suffers from mishandling its tone, but it still brings a group of hooligans together to pull off something they never thought of accomplishing. Sadly, they got caught up into something above their capabilities and have to deal with what comes with it. Certainly a film that can be thrown on for some mild entertainment that does not require much thinking or any real processing.