The Bank Job is Jason Statham’s return to the big screen in a British movie rather than the wibbly load of bollocks he’s popped up in recently (In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale, War, Chaos; need this go any further?). Starring as good-ol’ Cockney garage owner turned bank robber Terry Leather isn’t exactly going to test the acting prowess of ‘The Stath’ (as the world’s never-miss-a-trick press have taken to calling him) but at least it represents a return to his London routes doing the kind of role that begs to be knocked out of the park sideways.
The set up is nice and simple as charming Martine Lowe (Saffron Burrows) turns up rather pronto on Terry’s doorstep offering him the job of a lifetime. Conveniently arriving minutes after a load of mobsters have just shattered half of Terry’s garage means our plucky Londoner can’t resist and agrees whole-heatedly to the easiest job he’s ever likely to have a reasonably attractive female drop into his lap.
Soon after this though the plot starts to get messy and the film isn’t far behind, spiralling into an out of control hop-scotch which isn’t entirely certain which direction to jump to. Martine’s shady past is hinted at and her ulterior motives quickly revealed as something to do with a load of dodgy photos of some unnamed royal. While Lowe and Leather’s competing aims start to clash in one of cinemas most un-thrilling heist scenes of recent times shady side-characters are introduced and half-developed on a rather large scale. There’s bent coppers, shady spies and a porn-king rather unbelievably played by English gent David Suchet.
It certainly tries hard but you never get past the feeling that it’s trying a little too hard. There’s plenty of facets to it but Director Roger Donaldson never manages to tie them all together with enough skill to make us care about any of them. Leather for example splits his time between being part-time mech/part time bank robber by also being full-time family man but you never know enough about his relationships with his family to care whether he loses them with the scam or not. There’s also a rather bizarre sub-sub-section revolving around spy Gale Benson (Hattie Morahan) who adds nothing to the plot, least of all feeling, come her distinctly non-spy like departure.
All of this is neatly summed up in the tall tales of Leather’s cohorts in the bank raid who range from insipid (James Faulkner’s Guy Arthur Singer) to inept (Michael Jibson’s Eddie Burton). Ultimately however, the gang are meant to be the people in the movie who we truly care most about; will they, won’t they escape? What will they do with the money? Who have they got to go home to? In the end though, next to nothing is revealed about them and when their individual conclusions are played out on screen the remaining characters also seem to know nothing about them, least of all their fates, family or even supposed friends.
It’s a decent attempt by Statham to get back in his niche hole as the charming cockney with a heart who’s always willing to go a little but further than the other guys, taking us along for a laugh and a ride. However, he can’t penetrate a muddled story which jumps too quickly between too many characters and plot points and doesn’t give us the reasoning behind why it’s doing anything its doing. Not everyone will hate it (it’s certainly not a horrific film) but there’s nothing there to suck you in either, nothing to pull you along for the ride, to allow you to sit there and be knocked out of the park.