by Tony Dayoub
My DVD pick this week is this spring's sleeper hit, The Bank Job, directed by Roger Donaldson (Thirteen Days). This little gem surprised me. I admire its streamlined "all business" procedural attitude, and the fact that not a minute is wasted on extraneous character touches. Note the use of the word "extraneous," for it doesn't mean that character personalities are ignored. Just the opposite, as each character's personality facets appears as an organic result of the ever-moving plotline. And each actor ably highlights their respective moment without forgetting to support the overall story or stumbling to outshine their costars.
The film takes place in the seventies, and Britain's Princess Margret is photographed having a three way tryst while on vacation. A black militant (Peter De Jersey) in possession of these photographs hides them to protect himself from reprisals from the authorities over his activities. Beautiful Martine (Saffron Burrows) is used by MI5 to get to the photographs, hidden in a safety deposit box in a bank on Baker Street in London. Martine convinces her childhood pals, a rough lot led by Terry (Jason Statham), to rob the bank, ostensibly for the money since she doesn't make them aware of the real object of the heist. As Terry and his crew discover, there is much more going on under the surface, and Martine may have just endangered not only their lives, but their families' as well.
Though it is supposedly based on true events, there is little information available to confirm these claims. But that does not hinder one's enjoyment of the film. Its period setting evokes the classic British gangster films of the seventies, such as Get Carter, with their slick style and cold brutality.
Statham (The Transporter) is used to great effect here, bringing humor and a lion's ferocity to the role of down-on-his-luck family-man Terry. While there is an obvious attraction between childhood friend Martine and himself, the movie never wastes any time pursuing this incidental plot point up to its predictable dead end. It wisely focuses on the intricate plotline that eventually involves the seedy Soho porn industry, an S & M madam, and even the House of Lords.
Burrows (Deep Blue Sea) again proves herself to be more than just a pretty face. The former model is easily able to create the aura of casual glamor that the grownup Martine projects, while also evoking the more down-to-earth childhood pal that the heist crew grew up with. Equally comfortable carrying on her affair with a mysterious MI5 spy, but naive enough to fall prey to his manipulations in pursuit of the scandalous pictures, Burrows demonstrates she's got acting chops to spare.
Available today on single and 2-disc standard DVD, or 2-disc Blu-Ray, the single disc standard is a movie only disc, while both 2-disc versions contain extended scenes, the "Inside The Bank Job" and "The Baker Street Bank Raid" featurettes, the theatrical trailer, and a Digital Copy version of the film.
For those who miss the cool efficiency of the heist film, or the expert drama of seventies-era film, The Bank Job is the perfect DVD to see this week.
This entry first appeared on Blogcritics on 7/15/2008.