COURTESY OF LIONSGATE
Apparently, Jason Statham really can act. Coming from slam-bang action flicks like “The Transporter” and “Snatch” that portray him as a shirtless bad-ass with a heart of gold and fists of steel, Statham’s newest film is the story of a real-life London bank robbery in 1971, simply titled “The Bank Job.”
In the film, Statham plays Terry Leather, a small-time criminal or “villain,” in the film’s vernacular, who has always dreamed of the big score. He gets his chance when Martine shows up. Played by Saffron Burrows, Martine is an alluring old friend from Terry’s past.
Martine has an offer for Terry: A bank she knows has been experiencing problems with its alarms. These problems have forced it into a shutdown that leaves security blind to anyone who might know how to access the tunnel underneath and break into the safety deposit boxes.
The game to rob the bank via tunnel is on. Terry recruits a team to break in, ransack the boxes and get out. But alas, we wouldn’t watch the film if it were only that simple. Unbeknownst to Terry and his crew, Martine has actually been hired by the secretive MI-5 organization to raid the vault and destroy the contents of box 118, which includes revealing photographs of a member of the royal family. The British government wants the photos in order to prosecute a violent criminal calling himself Michael X, who’s been blackmailing the authorities with the photos to avoid jail time.
Truly a story of sex, drugs and shoot ‘em up, “The Bank Job” has enough nudity to resemble smut and enough excitement to keep the rest of the body alert as well. In fact, there are times when the film’s high-octane pacing outruns the various plot twists and turns. The early sequences, for example, are impossibly fast. Director Roger Donaldson jerks unsteadily from one point to the next, hurriedly illustrating the dark side of London’s socialites.
This dark side, however, is where the film draws its greatest strength. While not the grittiest movie by any stretch, “The Bank Job” is still a great look into the criminal, and often pornographic, underworld of London. Everyone has something to hide, and the secrets manage to layer the plot wonderfully.
Compounding the shaky but compelling plot are thick British accents that are often difficult to follow. (Any Americans who saw British director Guy Richie’s “Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels” may remember encountering a similar problem.) That being said, the performances are very well done. Statham is completely believable as a small-time hood, and his gang is compelling and humorous to the end.
“Bank Job” is an exciting trip across the Atlantic into a world of danger, sex and lies that extend into the highest echelons of power. At times difficult to follow but nevertheless compelling and fun, “The Bank Job” is now playing in theaters everywhere.