Urban Cinefile
"Johnny, it's the usual slashed wrist shot. Keep it out of focus I want to win the foreign picture award."  -Billy Wilder
 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Monday June 15, 2020 

Printable page PRINTABLE PAGE



Inspired by the real bank robbery in September 1971 ... Thieves tunnel into the vault of a bank in London's Baker Street and loot safe deposit boxes of cash and jewellery worth millions of pounds. But after the initial headlines, the unsolved robbery is soon forgotten - due to a rare Government D notice, gagging the press. Something was stolen other than the money. The secrets involve murder, corruption and a sex scandal with links to the Royal Family - it seems the thieves are the most innocent people involved.

Review by Louise Keller:
The best thing about this caper whose elements include a royal scandal, exotic locations, MI5 involvement, a brothel with a clientele from high places, corrupt cops, romance and a heist by a bunch of small-time crooks, is that it is based on fact. We are reminded that names have been changed, but this is juicy material for ace director Roger Donaldson to get his lens into (and for the audience to watch), and The Bank Job is as entertaining and thrilling as its ingredients suggest. The safe deposit boxes in the Lloyds of London bank where the heist takes place are like Pandora's Box: once opened, the ramifications simply ooze out.

It's a complex story with many players, and it's a credit to screenwriters Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais that the characters and events are woven together with an exhilarating and satisfying dramatic arc. The cast is hand-picked, with Jason Statham perfect as Terry Leather, the imperfect battler from the wrong side of the tracks, who is easily derailed, but not when it comes to his family. This is the best thing Saffron Burrows has done for a long time, playing the aptly named Martine Love who can easily shift gears from her familiar East End accent to her newly acquired posh one. Of course, her accent switch is indicative of the social classes that the film easily slides between. Richard Lintern's slick MI5 man Tim Everett is in the mould of a desk-bound 007 and each of the other key characters (there are the real thugs, brothel madams, upper crust peerage) slip easily into their roles. Keeley Hawes' Wendy Leather (Terry's devoted wife) is the only truly innocent character and the final scene between her and Martine is one of the film's most moving.

It is ironic that it is the mistake baby-faced lookout (Michael Jibson) makes, when his walkie talkie accidentally falls, is what saves the 'Walkie Talkie' thieves from getting caught. There are many challenges to be overcome; keeping one's head is not always easy. There's plenty of humanity and humour peppered throughout this tense and gripping tale of sex, scandal and corruption as it unravels. It made me wonder whether in 30 years or so, we would be watching another thriller expose with royal scandal implications that involve a car crash, a middle Eastern romance and a myriad of other twists and turns.

DVD special features include deleted and extended scenes, Inside the Bank Job and The Baker Street Bank Raid. Blu-Ray release also includes audio commentary plus red carpet interviews.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Blazing with the ring of truth, The Bank Job is a tense and involving caper movie with more than the usual layers: a genuine Royal scandal. The film doesn't actually spell out the name of the Royal whose raunchy photos are at the centre of the story, but it would take stubborn naiveté not to guess the name of the Princess in question. To the film's credit, the salacious pictures are never completely revealed. And besides, there were several other photos of senior politicians in compromising bondage situations which were stolen by thieves innocent of their real loot. They thought they'd just got rich; in fact, they'd just got conned.

Jason Statham, like all the actors, is impeccably cast as the small time crim given a shot at a big job by an old East London acquaintance in the (nice) shape of Martine Love (Saffron Burrows). Her reckless attempt at smuggling dope to England from Morocco has made her vulnerable to a deal she couldn't refuse: to find some villains who'd do a bank job.

Suitably bulging with strange characters, this true story requires nifty handling to keep it within our grasp, and with enough character interest to make us care for what happens. Roger Donaldson succeeds admirably, and his team recreate 1971 London with unnerving accuracy, down to the mood on the streets.

Veteran writer Dick Clement brings his writing skills honed to perfection, along with his frequent collaborator (and contemporary) Ian La Frenais. These guys know how to write crime drama for the screen, whether it's based on fact or not. The story is crystal clear, the plot development detailed, the characters integral to it all and the dramatic scenes - of which there are many - positively sizzle in the best British style. The moral of the story: don't keep your dirty laundry in a bank.

Published March 19, 2009

Email this article

Favourable: 2
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

(UK, 2008)

CAST: Jason Statham, Saffron Burrows, Stephen Campbell Moore, Daniel Mays, James Faulkner, Alki David, Michael Jibson, Georgia Taylor, Richard Lintern, Peter Bowles, Alistair Petrie, Hattie Morahan

PRODUCER: Steve Chasman, Charles Roven

DIRECTOR: Roger Donaldson

SCRIPT: Dick Clement, Ian Le Fresnais


EDITOR: John Gilbert

MUSIC: J. Peter Robinson


RUNNING TIME: 112 minutes




SPECIAL FEATURES: Inside the Bank Job; The Baker Bank Raid; deleted and extended scenes; Blue-Ray: audio commentary, Inside the Bank Job, The Baker Street Bank Raid, Red Carpet interviews, Jason Statham interview, deleted and extended scenes


DVD RELEASE: December 26, 2008

© Urban Cinefile 1997 - 2020