The Bank Job Directed by Roger Donaldson. 111 minutes. Opens Friday (March 7). Rating: NN
It’s never safe to declare a genre officially played out, but if the director of No Way Out can’t make a corking adventure out of London’s 1971 Lloyd’s Bank robbery – in which dozens of safety-deposit boxes were looted of an estimated £4 million – I’d say the heist picture is looking kinda wheezy these days.
The Bank Job stars Jason Statham as the fictionalized Terry Leather, an East London garage owner who, we’re led to believe, unwittingly pulls off the operation so the British Secret Service can retrieve a stash of compromising photographs – and finds himself in possession of other incriminating items that the owners and their powerful friends will stop at nothing to recover.
All the right elements are in place: the classical three-act structure of plan, heist and fallout; the likeable rogues’ gallery of odd-jobbers Terry recruits; the genuine villains he must outwit to survive; even a little romantic tension between the married Terry and the old flame (Saffron Burrows) who brings him the job in the first place.
But something crucial is missing. Thanks to a dodgy first reel that gives us too much information too soon, the narrative bogs down in unimportant flashbacks and incidental details, never encouraging us to appreciate any of the ingenuity on display. And after the heist, it blows past each of Terry’s little triumphs to get to the next bit of convoluted plotting.
This isn’t a bad movie, and it held my attention throughout ... but I can’t say I enjoyed it, and I have the feeling I was supposed to.