The heist movie is a classic mainstay of British cinema, with its love of the underdog and the ability to make even the most violent cockney criminals seem wry and endearing. So where's the harm in churning out another one? You'll find the answer in The Bank Job, which holds up about as well as a paper shack in a tsunami.
This is a film that shamelessly flaunts its desire to appeal to the masses, and assumes that all the masses want is breasts, loveable cockneys and Jason Statham (or Jason Staaaaaaaaaathammmm as we can't help but think of him here – Ed) hitting a guy with a brick. Although this may not be that wide of the mark to the Saturday night DV-renting masses, the plan has two serious failings. Firstly, the popular-appeal tactics are dropped onto the screen sequentially so that 'the sexy bit', 'the intrigue', 'suspicion', 'the heist', and 'the action scene' are painfully obvious. Secondly, each one crops up just to tick the boxes before slinking off screen never to return.
If that wasn't enough the plot also fails to meet its potential. Based on a true 1970s story about a group of struggling smalltime felons who take on a bank job that, unbeknownst to them, stretches as far afield as the royal family and the black rights movement, the story is loaded with layers of secrecy, manipulation and control. With this foundation, it should be an attention-grabbing action thriller. Instead the trivialities and crowd-pleasing miss the potentially joyful absurdity it would have played upon had it been placed in the right hands.
That said, The Bank Job's obvious commercial focus does make for occasional fun. For example, there's some witty banter (as you'd expect from this writing team) and things do become mildly tense as the coppers seem to be onto the felons. But for the most part, this a film that lacks cohesion, fails to draw any character identification and ultimately doesn't convince — and all the naked ladies and playful rogues in the world can't compensate for that.
EXTRAS **** One-and-a-half-stars for the film, four for the Extras: someone somewhere's got their priorities confused. Commentary from director Roger Donaldson and Jason Staaaaaaaaaathammmm; Inside The Bank Job featurette; The Baker Street Bank Raid featurette; The Bank Job: World Premiere featurettes (basically red carpet interviews and a one-on-one with Staaaaaaaaaathammmm); Extended scenes; and an introduction to The Storys, the band who play the band in the film.