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 if you decide to shell out your hard-earned cash on this hammed-up and badly pieced together movie, which holds up about as well as a paper shack in a tsunami.
OK, so these are harsh words to begin a review with, but this is a film that not only shamelessly flaunts its own desire to appeal to the masses, but fails to hide the fact it thinks that all the masses want is breasts, loveable cockneys and Jason Statham hitting a guy with a brick. Although this may not be that wide of the mark in some cases, this film has two serious failings in its plan. Firstly, the wide array of popular-appeal tactics are simply 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 is a momentary event which crops up just to tick the boxes before slinking off screen never to return.
If that wasn't enough to put you off, the plot also fails to meet its potential. Set in the 1970s and based on a true story about a group of struggling little-league felons who take on a bank job which, unbeknownst to them, is part of an intrigue that 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 someone should have been able to create an interesting and attention-grabbing action thriller, but instead the focus on trivialities and crowd-pleasing serves only to enhance the already fantastical and mildly unbelievable twists and turns of the tale without any of the joys of its absurdity that could have been played upon if placed in the right hands.
Having said that, The Bank Job's obvious commercial focus did occasionally make it fun — there were a few scenes where I chuckled to myself at some witty banter or became mildly tense as the coppers seemed to be on to the felons. But the bottom line is that all of these little nuggets of focus-group gold (maybe silver) felt too much like they were trotted out one after the other in the hope of winning us over. The result is 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.