Saturday, January 25, 2014

The Bank Job (2008) [R] **

Some time around 1970 a certain young, female royal personage had the misfortune to be secretly photographed in flagrante delicto, as it were. These photographs came into the possession of a black radical from Trinidad named Michael X, who used them to avoid prosecution and deportation from England.

In order to recover the photographs from a Lloyds Bank safe deposit box, a secret British government group put a plan into action. Starting by blackmailing Martine Love (Saffron Burrows) on questionable drug import charges, the group coerced Martine into offering her old lover Terry Leather (Jason Statham) a get-rich-quick opportunity to break into the bank vault, as the alarm system had been temporarily switched off. What Terry didn't know was why Martine needed to steal the contents of a particular safe deposit box. And what none of the thieves knew was that over a hundred other safe deposit boxes in that vault contained potentially damaging contents, including a porn king's secret ledger documenting his payoffs to the police, and a brothel madam's secret photographs showing her girls catering to the unusual sexual predilections of highly-placed members of the British government.

Tunneling into the vault and making off with its contents goes reasonably smoothly, but things unravel rapidly as the identities of the thieves are uncovered, and the owners of the safe deposit boxes grow desperate to recover their incriminating property. There's torture and murder, as we see just how far various players in the game are willing to go to protect royalty as well as their own names and careers.

Performances are generally good, especially Statham and Burrows, costumes, and props are correct for the period, including a lovely E-Type Jaguar convertible, and the London sets are appropriately gritty. However, there's no romance and no humor in this bank heist/thriller based on an actual 1971 event; if you want something glossy with romance, comedy and witty dialog, try Bandits, The Italian Job or Ocean's Eleven. 

Labels: crime, drama, thriller     
Internet Movie Database    
Metacritic 69/100    
Tomatometer (critics=79, viewers=74)    

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