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</script></div>{/googleAds}What would one expect to find tucked away in the typical safe deposit box of an ordinary neighborhood bank vault? Stock certificates? Money? Jewels and coins? If one particular real-life bank robbery is any telltale, then compromising photographs, incriminating journals, and even women's loose panties are probably more representative of the kinds of things people entrust to the most hardened of repositories.

The Bank Job is a British heist thriller that tells the story of the actual 1971 robbery in which a small-time crew wiped out most of the contents of a small East London bank vault. Of course, how accurate the story is to real-life can be debated because press coverage of the "walkie-talkie robberies," as they quickly became known, dried up a few days afterward due to a government issued gag order or "D Notice." Even though this fact is never revealed during the course of the film, its eventual discovery may prove to be one of the most chilling aspects of the story, especially to U.S. audiences. It's hard to imagine a world in which government scandal and police corruption can be made to disappear by simple censorship?

The Bank JobJason Statham is Terry Leather, a two-bit crook and struggling family man who is presented with an opportunity to make a quick buck by an old flame Martine (Saffron Burrows one of the prettiest names in Hollywood). She has her own reasons for involvement (leniency for a prior drug charge), but neither has a true idea of the scope of the heist and its eventual reach. The motley assemblage of petty thieves and two-bit crooks soon discovers there's more than just jewels and cash stored in them thar' strongboxes when they find themselves being chased by corrupt police officers, local underworld mobsters, and even M15 agents. They just want the loot, but unfortunately get stuck with the other garbage they dig up as well. The unknowing exposure of photos that could possibly blow the lid off a sexual tryst by a certain Royal personage will almost always roust trouble and retaliation. Why must simple bank robberies always be so complicated?

The story is a well written by Dick Clement and Ian La Franais (Across the Universe, Flushed Away), but better directed by Roger Donaldson (No Way Out, The World's Fastest Indian). There's a lot going on in The Bank Job with many complicated sub-plots and narrative strands, but Anderson never loses control of the story and it always feels light and breezy despite the edgy subject matter. He has a keen eye for the details of the period ('70s), yet also manages to guide us along the labyrinthine plot without making us feel pandered to. But most importantly, he allows us buy into the heist, even with its stripped down simplicity and lack of high-tech tools or over-thought methodology. And certainly, the temptation to tap into Statham's "bad ass" Transporter legacy was always in the back of his mind, yet Donaldson always stays true to the genre at hand - a heist film. One particular fight scene does feel a little out of place and gratuitous, but fortunately it doesn't last very long.

The fact that some of the most impactful facets of the film are revealed via closing title cards should theoretically do a disservice to the integrity of the movie. After all, aren't voice-overs and intertitles usually considered a cheap means of narration and plot advancement? But the revelation that very few of the hundreds of victims whose boxes were broken into ever reported their losses to the police tells such a damning story of human anonymity. And no humor is lost when one of those title graphics informs us that the names in the story were changed to protect the guilty. And if the guilty prove to be the criminal underworld, the British government, Malcolm X-like social activists, or even the Royal family itself, they certainly need protecting. It may sound like this author is advocating that the film is bested by the true story and what we don't know or understand in its aftermath. But I'm actually suggesting that while the truth may indeed be stranger than fiction, it's certainly not more entertaining.

Component Grades
4 stars
4 stars
DVD Experience
4 stars


DVD Details:

Screen Formats: 1.85:1

Subtitles: English; Spanish; Closed Captioned

Language and Sound: English: English: DTS 7.1 HD; English: DTS 5.1 Surround

Other Features: Color; interactive menus; scene access; making-of featurette; trailer; behind-the-scenes featurette.

* Commentary
o Feature-length commentary track with Donaldson, Burrows, and composer J. Peter Robinson.
* Featurettes
o Inside the Bank Job (16:42)
o The Baker Street Raid (14:52
* Deleted Scenes - totalling 06:15 with optional commentary
* Previews - the film's original theatrical trailer plus previews for other Lionsgate releases
* Music video: of Lauryn Hill's Lose Myself
* Digital copy of the film

Number of Discs: 2 with Keepcase Packaging