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Jason Statham’s career is in a place where he’s pretty narrowly type cast. If you know him at all, you likely know him as either the guy who punches things or the guy who drives things. In The Bank Job he does very little of either, though the movie’s marketing materials seem to go out of their way to picture him behind the wheel of an exotic car. What he does do in The Bank Job is act, and the movie is more of a character piece than an exciting, action-packed heist movie.
That’s not to say the heist itself isn’t interesting, though not especially complex. Statham plays Terry Leather, a former neighborhood two-bit crook who now has a family and plays it legitimate. Unfortunately Terry has money troubles and when an old flame named Martine appears out of nowhere and offers him the perfect crime, he finds it hard to resist. Terry rounds up his old gang of friends and together they plan a bank robbery.
Martine’s sources have told her the banks alarms will be out of commission. All Terry and his crew have to do is tunnel into the bank from the building next door, and walk out with the money. It’s not exactly Ocean’s 11. Terry and his crew get to work, we watch as they grumble and crack wise with each other. The heist itself often comes off as a bunch of nervous buddies out for a weekend camping trip, except they’re doing something damned illegal and about to get richly rewarded for their effort.
Their heist itself may be simple, but what they don’t know and we do, is that they’re flies in the ointment of complicated international intrigue. Terry and his gang may walk out without the money, but hanging on to their lives proves somewhat more difficult. It’s that layer of intrigue which keeps the movie from falling flat. There’s not much to the heist itself after all. Digging tunnels can only provide so much fun. Getting in the bank isn’t really much of a challenge and once that’s over with watching Terry try to figure out how to get out of the mess he’s trapped himself in is high drama. Statham is called on to give a gritty, desperate performance and surprisingly he delivers without resorting to the usual action hero poses that usually define him. His dogged determination drives the movie, and keeps it alive.
On the other hand, a couple of karate chops wouldn’t have hurt The Bank Job. I mean it’s nice watching all this drama, but the movie’s mostly people talking and standing around. I like my bank robberies with at least a couple of explosions. The Bank Job has none of those, and while that’s an interesting departure from the usual empty-headed stuff germane to the genre, if you’ve got Jason Statham why not use him? There’s a moment at the end where he finally gets to punch someone in the head, but the movie could have used a few more thrills before that to keep things energetic. This is a bank robbery after all.
The film tries to make up for its lack of excitement with sleek camera work and gratuitous nudity. It works. I guess I’m a sucker for underwater boobies. The Bank Job is sleek, sexy, and well acted. See it, and you probably won’t mind if it’s not all that thrilling.