The Bank Job


Directed by: Roger Donaldson
Written by:Dick Clement, Ian La Frenais
Starring: Jason Statham, Saffron Burrows, Daniel Mays, Stephen Campbell Moore, Alki David, James Faulkner
Released: July 31, 2008
Grade: B+

The title should tell you what this film is about.  What it doesn’t reveal is that this is based on actual events and it’s very, very interesting.  We’ve seen a lot of bank heist movies released over the years but this one has a few fresh twists.  It should keep you guessing until the very end.

In September 1971, the Lloyd’s Bank on London’s Baker Street was robbed.  A gang of thieves had tunnelled underneath the bank and into the locked vault.  They stole the contents of 268 safety deposit boxes.

It’s not the robbery that I found fascinating but rather what happened next.  The British Government squashed all media coverage of the event.  They issued a “D-notice” which prohibited the media from publishing certain information because it was a threat to national security.  The public therefore knew very little about what actually happened.

What was the Government worried about?  Let’s just say that people don’t always put money, gold or jewellery in their safety deposit boxes.  Some have valuable information which they want to keep well guarded.  What better place than a bank, right?

The crime was never officially solved.  Many bank customers refused to disclose what was in their safety deposit boxes and so the amount actually stolen could never be determined.  No one knew what became of the thieves either.  The whole robbery was shrouded in mystery.

If you want to know what really happened, you need to check out The Bank Job.  Producer Steven Chasman tracked down a few of the people involved with the crime to find the truth.  They helped shape the screenplay but did so under the condition of anonymity.  They have new lives now and did not want their past coming back to haunt them.

I enjoyed The Bank Job because of its story.  As you can probably already tell, it definitely grabbed my attention.  The overall film itself isn’t that great.  Too much time is spent focusing on the lead-up to the bank robbery as opposed to its aftermath.  The acting isn’t too flash either.  The two lead stars are Jason Statham (The Transporter) and Saffron Burrows (Reign Over Me).  I found it difficult to take them seriously and I believe the film would have been enhanced with some bigger name stars.  Perhaps they couldn’t be accommodated into the $20m budget.

The director is Australian born Roger Donaldson.  Some of his earlier films were rather forgettable (Cocktail, Species) but Donaldson has made some impressive movies over the past decade including Thirteen Days and The World’s Fastest Indian.  This isn’t his best work but it’s not bad.  It’s great to see another Aussie making his mark in the film world.