Movie News & Reviews

Bank Job didn't cash in on Statham

If the government didn't want stealing to be such a popular crime,then they should never have made it so damn cool.

That's Uncle Sam for you, though. Always taking away our mosttreasured rights, like the right to take other peoples' stuff, even asthey fill the capital with monuments to Jesse James and theHamburglar. Meanwhile, the movie industry inundates us with heistfilms like Mad Money or the new The Bank Job, promisingeternal happiness is only a bank robbery away.

And thank god for that. Movies about stealing are almost as fun asstealing itself -- a bad-ass heist scene can almost justify everythingthat comes before and after it. The job in The Bank Job isn'tbad-ass -- misunderstood-ass, maybe -- but that and some over-the-topplotting are enough to outweigh its imaginative shortcomings.

The British Government's got a problem on its hands: they've gotevidence to put kidnapping drug player Peter De Jersey away, but he'sgot sex pictures of the princess in a safe deposit box which he'llrelease if they try to put him on trial.

Not wanting to dirty their own hands, they convince local criminalSaffron Burrows to rob the bank for them. She talks petty crook JasonStatham and his team to help her out -- without telling them who they'reworking for or how they might well bring down the wrath of all kindsof dangerous people on both sides of the law.

Because it turns out people keep some scandalous stuff in depositboxes. With the depositors' secrets at risk of being aired to thepublic and the authorities, Statham and Co., are barely out of the bankbefore they're being hounded by pornographers, politicians, thugs, andcorrupt cops, all of whom would rather plant him in the ground thansee their dirty business exposed.

It's this horde of interested parties, all after Statham and his crew,that gives The Bank Job some kick. Otherwise, it's prettystandard stuff, right down to the fact Statham's a family man pullingone last big score to the supporting cast that's decent enough but nomore colorful than a Crayola 12-pack. Incidentally, how do you make amovie where Jason Statham ends up pretty ho-hum? I could watch thatguy writing Christmas letters to his great aunt and come away feelinglike I just saw 40 billion Death Stars explode.

And with the 80 jillion do-badders on the thieves' tails, the suspenselasts long after the robbery itself -- but all these people who end upcoming after Statham and pals means the story sprawls in its earlygoing. Think you'll be interested in the dealings of teeny tinycharacters in sub-sub-plots that don't seem to have anything to dowith the rest of the movie? Really? Well, that's weird of you,because they're not very interesting at all.

They're there, most likely, because The Bank Job is based on atrue story, and these minor characters existed in real life. Well,OK. Good for them for having been alive.

The thing about fiction, though, is it's better than reallife -- at least when it's done well. You can cut out the irrelevantstuff, stay tight on what matters. If, for instance, I were to tellyou the story of how I was once voted America's greatest lover, Iwould probably leave out the part where Keira Knightley starteddressing in a wizard hat after she heard how often I watch The Lordof the Rings. I would definitely skip past the time I beat acar-sized centipede in a boxing match -- I'm not too humble to admit itwas impressive, superhuman, even, but I just don't see the relevanceto the matter at hand.

So while I'm down with writers Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais' senseof humor, their ability to keep a lot of balls in the air at once, andtheir agreeably sleazy style, I'm less OK with their decision toinclude a bunch of junk with no relevance to Statham or any of theother guys we care about. It just waters down a movie that's got agood heist and a good crew but in too many ways is as uninspired asits title.

Grade: B-