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THE BANK JOB

Review by Gordon Justesen

Stars: Jason Statham, Saffron Burrows, Stephen Campbell Moore, Daniel Mays, Michael Jibson, Richard Lintern, Keeley Hawes, David Suchet
Director: Roger Donaldson
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 EX, Dolby Surround
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1
Studio: Lions Gate
Features: See Review
Length: 110 Minutes
Release Date: July 15, 2008

ďYou have no idea of the danger you and your chums are in, do you?Ē

ďIs that right? And why would that be?Ē

ďYou've opened Pandoraís box, you dumb prick. That's why.Ē

Film ****

If you happen to frequent our web site, it should come across as no mystery that I really enjoy caper movies. It seems as though Iíve reviewed almost every film in the sub-genre, including The Italian Job, Heist, The Score and Oceanís 11-13. So while I expected The Bank Job to be entertaining at best, I didnít expect it to be the best heist movie inÖmaybe forever.

Though I still think of Oceanís Eleven as the ultimate caper movie, The Bank Job achieves a similar label through a different route. The story here happens to be 100% true, so in addition to being a riveting heist flick, it is without question one of the most exhilarating true crime movies Iíve ever seen.

The film also marks a large return to form for director Roger Donaldson. Though heís never really hit a career slump, Donaldsonís resume has been a little uneven. Itís hard to imagine that the director of such riveting films as The Bounty, Thirteen Days and the truly underrated White Sands also brought us such fare as Cocktail, Danteís Peak and the remake of The Getaway. But he did also bring us Species, for which I will always be grateful for obvious reasons.

But this is director Donaldson returning to his solid roots, and he picked the absolute right project for doing so. Itís rare in todayís movie market to find a solid British crime thriller with the appeal of a 70s film (the movieís poster alone delivers that 70s feeling). Whatís more, the true story aspect, combined with the top-notch recreation of the time period as well as the superb acting help to make one of first great films to emerge from 2008.

The setting is 1971, London. Terry Leather (Jason Statham) is an ex-con, now down-on-his-luck proprietor of a car-sales garage. Heís left his criminal days behind to enjoy life as a loving husband and family man. But since Terry is heavily in debt to a local loanshark, there couldnít be a better time for someone from his past to show up with a job proposition to good to refuse.

That someone is Martine (Saffron Burrows), who approaches Terry with a job offer that will require him to return to criminal status, but will also result in a huge payday. The job: to assemble a team on short notice to help break in safety deposit vault of the Baker Street bank. If they can make away with the contents of the vault before the police arrives, Terry and his crew will get away clean, since safety deposit boxes tend to hide things owners want nobody to know about.

Before long, Terry is able to assemble a team and go right to work. The job consists of digging a tunnel to the bank from a neighboring chicken restaurant, and a lengthy amount drilling to reach the vault. Sure enough, and after a close call or two, Terry and his crew reach the safety deposit vault and make away with millions in cash and jewelry.

Sounds like a familiar heist movie so far, right? But itís in the aftermath of the robbery where The Bank Job really sets off fireworks of tension. Suffice to say, the sh*t really, really hits the fan, as Terry finds himself faced with a number of evil sorts who happened to have contents in a number of the deposit boxes stolen. Iíve left out a number of factual details involving the true motive behind the robbery, which are established in the filmís early scenes. Because these details come back into play in the movieís phenomenal second half, I think itís better that I leave those for you to discover.

Being a huge fan of Jason Statham, who for me is the most charismatic action star working today in addition to being Britainís answer to Bruce Willis, itís really great to see him in a more serious project like this. His performance here is most reminiscent of his early work with Guy Ritchie, where he played rugged but likable anti-hero types. Though I love his action-oriented characters in the likes of Crank and The Transporter, thereís no question that his performance here is Stathamís best to date.

Fun, fast-paced, intense, smart and all around exhilarating, The Bank Job is quite simply a phenomenal piece of entertainment. For me, this is the cream of the crop as far as heist films go. The richness and huge level of authenticity really add a lot to an already entertaining enterprise, and those seeking smart entertainment for adults couldnít ask for anything better.

Video ****

This Lions Gate release provides one amazing looking presentation. The stylish look applied by director Roger Donaldson and cinematographer Michael Coulter results in a bright and superbly detailed picture. The image is thoroughly sharp and crisp, with absolutely no flaws in sight. Itís as top-notch of a presentation as one could hope for.

Audio ***1/2

Despite being more of a dialogue-oriented crime thriller, we are fortunate to get a 5.1 EX track, which always ensures a most terrific sound mix. In the areas of music playback, which includes a good number of songs for the early 70s) and plenty of tension filled action and suspense in the filmís second half, you very much get a more than solid sounding presentation. Dialogue delivery is terrific as can be, in addition.

Features ***

The 2-Disc Special Edition release from Lions Gate has the perfect assortment of extras. Included is a commentary with director Roger Donaldson, actress Saffron Burrows and composer J. Peter Robinson. Also included are two very well handled featurettes; "Inside The Bank Job" and "The Baker Street Bank RaidĒ. We also get Deleted/Extended Scenes with optional commentary, a Theatrical Trailer and several Bonus Previews.

Disc Two includes a Digital Copy of the movie.

Summary:

The Bank Job is both a grand piece of filmmaking and a rousing entertainment. No matter how many heist films youíve seen, this fact-based thriller is as good as they come, as well as one of the best films of the year!

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