London Calling

A review of The Bank Job. (It’s okay.)

DisappointmentIt was a movie that had everything going for it. It had Jason Statham, star of The Transporter and Crank, two very fun action movies. It had Roger Donaldson, the director of No Way Out and The Recruit, two smart, suspenseful spy movies. It was based on a true story, a daring tale of the greatest robbery in the history of the U.K. So what the hell went wrong? Why is this movie so boring?

A big part of it is Hollywood’s obsession with true stories. Guess what, execs. True stories sort of suck. Do you really think that, all things being equal, telling an audience that a story is factual really helps them suspend their disbelief and dive in? I don’t. I think it gets in the way. I think the desire to be faithful to the truth impedes your creativity. It forces you to be loyal to the elements of a story that really aren’t that interesting. I think it seduces you into thinking that what you have is a great story readymade for mass consumption and it forces you to forget that at its core, this is supposed to be a heist movie, god damn it.

That’s the real problem here. It takes a solid hour for The Bank Job to take off and get fun. That’s an hour spent juggling intrigue and political allegiances, an hour of setting up characters that are peripheral at best. Abbreviatedly, an hour of exposition. About 5 minutes in, they basically sit you down like a child and explain the plot. And that would have been just fine with me if it meant the storytellers would get out of my way and let me watch a bunch of robbers planning and executing a freaking heist. But no. We have to see these spies planning this double cross, and these other guys being set up by the government. The worst is that there could have been some really good twists in this movie, if it weren’t for all the exposition. Keeping all these subplots in the air makes the film come across as smart, but in the end, it’s too smart for its own good.

Get CarterAnd another thing. The trailer for this movie is BADASS because they plug in The Clash’s London Calling, and it fits perfectly. It sells you on the idea that this movie is a throwback to the great British caper flicks of the 60s and 70s. It calls back Michael Caine in Get Carter (No, not the remake) and The Italian Job (No, not the remake). But when the platters finish spinning on The Bank Job, London Calling has gone M.I.A. (A phenomenon discussed at length here). The trailer proves that London Calling would have MADE a montage in this flick. It’s a shame. The trailer editors were just a little bit smarter, brighter, and better funded than the guys who actually cut the movie.

My rhetoric’s getting out of control here, so let me simplify. This movie isn’t that bad.
Statham – solid.
Donaldson’s direction – solid.
Plot, tension, excitement – solid.

So yeah, The Bank Job is a disappointment, but that’s only because it could have been awesome, and it isn’t. It’s just okay. But okay is pretty good.

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