Gagged by the government, the real story of the Baker Street bank job has taken years to emerge. Pity then that the resulting film is so disappointing. The story’s strong but Brit writing stalwarts Dick Clement and Ian Le Frenais have produced a surprisingly pedestrian script that lacks the savvy quality of their previous work (Flushed Away). And experienced Aussie director Roger Donaldson (World’s Fastest Indian, Thirteen Days, Dante’s Peak) doesn’t do much to ignite the material.
Pitching us into the period detail, Donaldson’s film has the requisite downbeat appeal – with a rainy, greyed-out, 70s London before the emerging forces of the 80s gave us the more buoyant gangland backdrops of the Long Good Friday and Mona Lisa. The Bank Job is notable for a solid acting turn from Statham and a more caricatured one from Mike-Leigh-regular Daniel Mays (Vera Drake, All or Nothing). But - perhaps appropriately for a 70s-set film – the female characters aren’t allowed much room to develop, either smouldering in sexiness (Statham’s old flame Saffron Burrows) or suffering domestic indignity (Keeley Hawes as Statham’s wife).
Statham’s action fans will have to wait a long time for a brief but bruising punch up. Otherwise, The Bank Job is a waste of David Suchet, Statham, Burrows and Hawes.
The against-the-clock, will-they-be-caught tension is enjoyably taut, but too often the film fails to fill out the cinema screen with sufficient drama, action or character. As Sunday TV it would be well-made and agreeably watchable. But as a movie it lacks the budget and balls to break the bank.