STUDIO: Lions Gate Home entertainment
MSRP: $21.99
RUNNING TIME: 110 minutes
Audio Commentary by director Roger Donaldson, Saffron         Burrows and composer J. Peter Robinson
Inside The Bank Job featurette
The Baker Street Bank Raid featurette
Deleted / extended scenes with optional commentary
Digital Copy of the film

The Pitch

Sometimes the Inside Man is an inside woman.

The Humans

Jason Statham, Saffron Burrows, Stephen Campbell Moore, Daniel Mays, James Faulkner, Alki David, Michael Jibson, Georgia Taylor, Peter de Jersey, David Suchet.

“Jason, isn’t that Tom Cruise coming this way?”
“Yeah, ever since Collateral he just won’t leave me alone…”

The Nutshell

In 1971, small-time former British hood-turned-failing-car-salesman Terry Leather (Statham) and his crew are offered a foolproof bank heist opportunity by his friend and former flame, Martine (Burrows).  The plan is to break into the safe deposit vault of the Baker Street branch of Lloyds Bank from the sewer and raid the boxes, which promise to have millions in cash, jewels and other goodies.  But what they don’t realize is that there’s one box in particular that contains leverage in the form of salacious pictures that a local Black militant, Michael X (de Jersey), has over the Royal Family that could rock the entire monarchy to its foundations.  Further complicating matters is that MI5 has set the entire thing up, hoping that a person they have on the inside of the job will procure the pictures before they become public.  There are also other incriminating materials that local gangsters and public officials don’t want to become public.  So after the heist goes down, Terry and his cohorts find themselves being pursued by both sides of the law, all of whom aim to see them dead for one reason or another.

“So, as you can see, according to these detailed plans, Jason could kick all of our asses…”

The Lowdown

The first time I saw Bank Job in the theatres, it kind of flew by me a bit because there was so much going on and so many players of whom to keep track. However, a second viewing confirmed to me that this is a very solid caper flick with the added bonus of being both a period piece based on a true story and also delightfully British.  Director Roger Donaldson crafts an intricate and well-made piece of intrigue that has nice performances and a clever script that flirts with history.   Statham, who is pretty much my favorite actor,  especially gets the chance to prove that he can do more than just hand people their sphincters.  And there are twists and turns that keep the story hopping from jump street.

“You wanna settle this, buddy?  Fine.  I’ve got a barrel of used motor oil right over there.  Let’s go…”

The thing that starts the whole thing off is that a Black militant and local hood by the name of Michael X snaps some scandalous pictures of Princess Margaret on holiday in the Caribbean in 1970.  With these pictures in hand, X is virtually untouchable by the British authorities, even the Royal Family.  He uses this advantage to wantonly commit crimes under the veil of being an activist.  He’s associated with various criminal types, one of whom being Lew Vogel (Suchet), who recommends a certain bank where X should keep the photos.

Enter Terry Leather, a former small-timer who’s trying to go legit by running a failing car dealership.  Terry owes money to some local hoods who are determined to take it out of his hide, if not his merchandise.  So when Martine Love, a shapely figure from his past shows up out of the blue with an offer for a sure-fire plan to rob a bank, Terry and his mates, Dave (Mays), and Kevin (Moore) are in.  With the help of tunnel expert Bambas (David) and con man known as the Major (Faulkner), the scheme is afoot.  The plan is to rent a former haberdashery shop two doors down from the bank, tunnel under a chicken joint and up into the bank vault.  There are many obstacles, and instances where they could be caught, especially when a ham radio operator overhears their chatter and alerts the police.  However, eventually they succeed and make off with the majority of the loot in the safety deposit boxes. 

“WTF, Uwe??  I don’t know how you got this frequency, but I already told you, I’m not interested in a remake of friggin’ Super Mario Bros…”

That, however, is merely where the story really begins.  In addition to the loot, they also steal the Princess Margaret photos and find out that said photos were the impetus for the entire heist.  Furthermore, certain illegal ledgers belonging to Vogel are also snatched, providing even more headaches.  It’s not too long then that Terry and his compatriots find themselves being pursued by the cops, MI5, and Vogel’s men.  Terry and the crew have to do some serious negotiating with both sides in order to get out of the situation alive.

“Bloody madeleine hater…”

One of the things that really works for The Bank Job is that they make good use of the time period and atmosphere without it overly seeming like a period piece.  Performances are solid all around and Donaldson includes plenty of close calls and a bit of humor to keep things popping.  Donaldson has proven with previous works such as No Way Out and Thirteen Days that he’s good at staging intrigue – political and otherwise – and there’s plenty of that in Bank Job.  You virtually need a program to keep all the players straight, and you might need to watch it more than once to fully appreciate it.  It’s just right below The Inside Man for cleverness, but overall, Bank Job is a nice bit of caper goodness and I recommend it.

“Let’s make this quick, love…I’ve got a dozen guys that need to see their pancreases up close…”

The Package

The transfer is quite good here in 2.35:1 widscreen.  There’s the option of English Dolby 5.1 Digital EX or 2.0 Dolby Digital, with English and Spanish subtitles.  There are two featurettes: Inside The Bank Job, which is a pretty good making-of that clocks in at 16 minutes and The Baker Street Bank Raid, which is a 15-minute piece about how the actual 1971 bank job inspired the story.  There’s also a commentary by Donaldson, Burrows and composer J. Peter Robinson.  They also lend optional commentary to roughly six minutes of deleted scenes, the best of which is easily some skin action between the Transporter and Burrows.  Finally, there’s a second disc with a digital copy of the film.  I like this trend that the studios are doing with this last feature.  Saves you the trouble of hitting Limewire…  Anyway, this is a good film and good disc.

7.6 out of 10