The Bank Job
directed by Roger Donaldson
(Lion's Gate, 2008)

Coming to a loss for words is usually due to one of two things: 1) there is such an astonishing creation of wonder and awe that we are stunned into silence, or 2) the topic is a step below mundane, and to even attempt to broach the subject would be a monotonous task. Unfortunately, The Bank Job directed by Roger Donaldson falls into the latter category.

It is based on the true story of the robbery of London's Baker Street Bank in 1971. This was no ordinary job, however, because the mastermind behind it was a secret branch of British Intelligence called MI5 or MI6 (no one really knows). In response to some scandalous photographs of Princess Margaret taken by Michael X (Peter de Jersey) and stored in a safety deposit box in that very bank, the agency is presented with the task of birthing a "unique" way to recover them. Hence, Terry Leather (Jason Statham), Martine Love (Saffron Burrows) and their band of local crooks are hired for the job but misled as to why.

Inevitably, everything they steal they decide to keep and, unaware of the photos they're holding, they attempt to skip town. Also, there are many more subplots involving a porn king and a whole list of corrupt cops (literally). But don't worry, everything is tied into a neat little bow by the end.

So ... why the loss of words? Well, there is simply nothing there, nothing between its ears, a film devoid of all creative thought and spark. The 1970s was an era lush with vibrant colors and fashion. Music wasn't just a pastime; it was a lifestyle, and all aspects of life were up for experimentation -- we see none of this in The Bank Job. It is straight-forward to the point of becoming forgettable.

This film can best be described as a "Tradition of Quality" (a term used by critic Francois Truffaut); it follows all of the established traditions of previous filmmakers on the qualifications for a suspense/thriller movie, and this is supposed to produce a high-quality film. I will admit that Donaldson's film is pristine in following this. But instead of using the trite music with the heavy beats and string-instrument background, why couldn't he have pulled music from the era or fused into the movie some tiny creative trinket? No, when it comes down to it, the movie is simply a series of shots that create a plot -- absolutely no more, no less. Its only function is to instill amnesia; you forget all about it the second you leave the theater.

review by
Molly Ebert

25 July 2009

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