The Bank Job

A hope for more "B" heist movies . . .

Without cell phones a heist in the 1970's seems quaint to say the least. The "progressive" use of walkie-talkies during the crime must have seemed terribly smart except for the inevitable ham radio operator listening in.

And so The Bank Job, inspired by the robbery in 1971 of Lloyds Bank on Baker Street in Central London and attendant corruption and extortion, stars the redoubtable Jason Statham as East-End bloke Terry Leather (yes, another "based" on tale, this time with the humorous end credits' disclaimer that "names have been changed to protect the guilty").

The high-cheek-boned Saffron Burrows as Martine Love is co-conspirator and temptress, and a host of other semi-forgettable characters form a gang that faintly calls to mind the great European heist films such as Rafifi (1955), whose criminals were more interesting than the machinations of their inevitably flawed, albeit romantic, crime. However, it is not Sexy Beast (2000), Get Carter (1971), or the Oceans trilogy because it lacks anything near their wit and cinematographic style.

Because it's a Brit film, MP's are involved if only by being exposed for the miscreants they are; this is the period, after all, when British sex scandals at the top of the heap were tabloid staples.

As an Anglophile, I delighted in the location shooting around Tottingham Court and Paddington stations. But most of all I watched as Statham morphed his usually stern, stubbled, no-nonsense tough guy into sensitive, new- age married man with kids, much as Clint Eastwood and scores of other manly leading men have done to assure their futures in mature middle-aged roles.

Bank heist may not be the memorable Sherlock Holmes Red-Headed League, which also depicts a gang tunneling from a shop, but I enjoyed the two hours, the unusual denouement, and the hope that more "B" movie heists might be forthcoming.