This heist picture is based on a real robbery in 1970s London. Among the items pilfered are scandalous sex photos of a standing English princess, which are stolen from a pornography mogul and a Black Panther-type revolutionary. It’s got sex, guns and drugs. Given the material, why does this film seem so placid and safe, so clean?
Perhaps it’s casting — co-stars Jason Statham and Saffron Burrows are likely the most wooden couple the UK has to offer. Stiff doesn’t begin to describe their combined line delivery and reactions. Have them face each other while holding either end of a two-by-four, and you might mistake them for the Tower Bridge.
The Bank Job aims to be like Ocean’s 11, which was full of tense moments punctuated by comedic pay-offs to alleviate audience anxiety. While it does hearken back to classic heist films, nothing in this film is particularly memorable, and the audience is never very invested in the robbery or its characters. Also, director Donaldson keeps the action moving, but doesn’t provide enough of the sleaze — so evident in 70s action films — that would have given it greater impact, while reinforcing the tone of the story.
One for the poster: If The French Connection leaves one feeling grimy,then The Bank Job might trigger a longing for a refreshing breath mint.