The Bank Job

Paul Yim Paul Yim: (paulyim-deleteme[at]-deleteme-direman [dot] com) 2008-03-12 04:04:01

The Bank Job - Rank C


Just saw The Bank Job starring Jason Statham. I didn't hate it, so if you want to know why, read on.

The film falls into the caper-movie standard of taking us back into time then forward again to tell the story behind the story. A minor annoyance, to be sure, but noticeable nonetheless. I don't understand why filmmakers have to do this as a matter of course. Is the plot so uninteresting that they have to keep us engaged with trick flashbacks and the like?

Anyways, the story begins when Jason Statham's character, Terry, is propositioned by a former love interest, Martine, played with some admirable complexity by Saffron Burrows. She actually says, "I have a proposition for you." This would be laughable had it not been said with such a straight face. The movie is full of ludicrous lines like that. If the script demanded a lighter tone, the director sure as hell didn't get that memo.

The director, Roger Donaldson (The Bounty, Species, The Recruit), also must have missed the meeting where they discussed how to properly shoot your leading actress so that every red-blooded male in the theater will fall in love (or lust) with her. Instead, he wastes shot after shot on incidental titty that is definitely not Saffron Burrows' titty. Don't get me wrong, I love titty as much as the next guy (I had a very in-depth discussion about this with a co-worker once, and we came to the conclusion that if a movie were to logically place a monkey, a little person, and titty in the same shot, that that would be the greatest movie ever made) but there's such a thing as a "budget" and "purpose" for every shot, and so every shot must be well placed and planned carefully. Alfred Hitchcock spent months laboring over shot placement before even one roll of film was exposed. Kurosawa spent years on one of his projects painstakingly painting out his scenes, shot by loving shot. I assure you that those two masters would have placed the right titty in the right goddamned shot.

I will say this though: I think Jason Statham has the ability to really stretch himself and become a true "A" list actor. He's utterly believable in this film as a small timer, in a world of very big shots, trying to eek out a living for the love of his wife and two young daughters. Throw in a former love interest and the sparks fly quite convincingly. I think a big part of what's holding him back is his accent. It's that particular kind of British that's got too many euphemisms for American audiences to properly warm up to. And the cadence is all "hooligan" rather than "Oxford don". This kind of thing works fine for movies like Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels or Snatch, but not for a character like Terry who has to make American audiences believe that he's a proper father to his children. Regardless, Statham still has a certain appeal - perhaps it's in the way he walks or the way he gestures when he's talking, I don't know - that lets us into his world of cutthroats and villains with the kind of ease that allowed an old time barber to put a 5 inch razor to a man's neck, no sweat.

The movie would have been a solid "B" had it not been for the cliched, tried-and-true Hollywood ending. So it gets a very high "C". The Bank Job is rated R for nudity, violence, and language and is in theaters as of this writing.

Ciao.

The second link is the 2-disc Collector's version of the film, and the third is the Blu-ray edition.

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