Complete A-Z list

Bank Job, The


Stars: Jason Statham, Saffron Burrows, David Suchet, Peter de Jersey, Keeley Hawes, Michael Jibson, Stephen Campbell Moore, Richard Lintern, James Faulkner, Peter Bowles, Hattie Morahan

Director: Roger Donaldson

This complex 'lads' caper', based on real events, is a throwback to the hard-man British crime films of 30 and 40 years ago. When a top Jamaican crook, Michael X (a menacing de Jersey), evades jail thanks to his possession of photos that incriminate a British princess, MI6 launches a devious plan to get them back.

Framing adventuress Martine Love (Burrows) on a drugs bust, government enforcers are able to coerce her into masterminding a raid on the vault containing the photos, as well, of course, as millions in cash and jewels.

She recruits dodgy second-hand car dealer Terry (Statham, ideally cast), who's in debt and in danger of losing his kneecaps as well as his business. Also in the vault are a ledger belonging to Michael X's English associate, porn king Eddie Vogel (a sweaty Suchet), and photos incriminating various ministers, depicting them enjoying devious sex, and deposited by brothel madame Sonya (Sharon Maughan).

Assembling a team, Terry takes out a lease on the empty shop two doors from the bank and starts digging towards the vault. But from the start he's being spied on - a ham radio enthusiast even alerts the police - and when he does get his hands on the safe deposit boxes, all kinds of factions are prepared to stop at nothing to retrieve their incriminating property.

Whatever the opposite of a chick-flick is, this is it. But, exciting and entertaining and spiced up with sex and nudity as it is, the film is also curiously unsettling. Three of the gang meet very violent ends, losing their share of the loot, while we are meant to celebrate the survival of the other three, with their ill-gotten gains. Since 'none of the proceeds were ever recovered', what happened to the dead men's share, especially since nearly all those involved ended up dead or in jail? And the sex and nudity are sufficiently exploitative to be something of a distraction from the main event.

That said, performances, with a couple of minor exceptions, are competent, and thick-ear-thriller fans should enjoy it. Interesting to note that one of the heavies Statham duffs up is played Craig Fairbrass, a former leading man who, 15 years ago, was playing just the kind of roles that Statham does now.

David Quinlan

UK 2007. UK Distributor: Lionsgate. Colour.
110 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 2, Violence/Horror 2, Drugs 0, Swearing 1.

Review date: 24 Feb 2008