When the history books reflect upon this era of filmmaking, Jason Statham will be hailed as one of its greatest action stars. Statham gained notoriety across the pond for his roles in Guy Ritchie's Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch, then followed up with the starring role in Corey Yuen's over-the-top The Transporter. Statham gained a cult following among action fans for making a certain kind of movie--mindless, over-the-top action. Despite a ridiculously-intricate plot, Statham's role in The Bank Job may have his fans yearning for a return to his roots.
Based on a recently-declassified true story of a 1971 London bank robbery, The Bank Job tells the tale of a rag-tag team of amateur robbers setting their sights on a bank. This is where things get complicated. Terry (Jason Statham) is approached by an old flame, Martine (Saffron Burrows) to rob a bank. In turn, she is working on behalf of her lover, British government agent Tim (Richard Lintern), who wants incriminating photos from a safe deposit box in the bank. The film quickly turns into a bloated mess, boasting over 20 characters and innumerable twists.
Those watching The Bank Job may draw parallels to other robbery movies, such as The Italian Job or Ocean's 11. What sets it apart from those films is the simple fact that The Bank Job never seems to know where to draw the line. Despite having a fun sense of style and maintaining tension throughout, a credit to director Roger Donaldson, the film keeps introducing characters. Worse, the film introduces characters without explaining who anybody is. Thus, a great deal of The Bank Job is spent wondering who the hell all these people are and why they're hanging around. The actual planning and execution of the robbery is excellent, but marred by this confusion.
Nevertheless, if audiences can get past dozens and dozens of ancillary characters and the first half of the film dragging on forever, they'll get to the excellent latter part of the film. The heist and its aftermath feature some excellent sequences and some intriguing plot developments, but it's a shame that they're buried under so much other extraneous stuff that they're hard to enjoy.
Even worse, a filmgoer with any remembrance of Jason Statham's glory days will spend the entire film waiting for gunfights and explosions, ultimately leaving unsatisfied. For years, Statham has satisfied his fans with oodles of mindless violence or (in the case of his earlier work) playing entertaining characters. Unfortunately, The Bank Job isn't filled with enough gunplay or good writing to be anything but disappointing.
The Bank Job opens Fri., Mar. 7.