Based on a true story, The Bank Job is about a crew of semi-professional criminals who have been unwittingly tapped to do the dirty work of a British government agency by robbing a bank. With a dark, leering camera style, a cast of cockney accents and a tangled plot set in the crime-ridden underbelly of 1970s London, it could very well be another Guy Ritchie movie. It even stars Jason Statham, who has become something of a regular in the dirty Brit heist genre (Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels, Snatch, The Italian Job). But despite the superficial similarities, director Roger Donaldson has eschewed the ethical vacuum of the Ritchie films and chosen to ram morals into his film. Too many times, he drives home the point that the simple (if not greedy) desires of the petty criminals are not nearly as nefarious as the government forces they unknowingly work for. However honorable this is, the clouding of "right" and "wrong" is a little forced, and it hurts the entertainment value. For example, by showing the ring leader, Terry (Statham) in domestic settings (giving his daughter a teddy bear, taking his wife out to dinner) the film tries to convince us that any family man with a debt problem should be justified in orchestrating a multi-million dollar bank robbery.
The other characters are similarly endearing in the same predictable "I'm a lower middle-class Englishman trying to strike it rich just like any one else" way. This aside, the movie redeems itself with plenty of rich, seedy scenes depicting funky seventies smut. The British government has classified the details of this crime until 2054, but in the meantime, Donaldson has done a remarkable job fleshing out the incident with a colorful restaging of the debauched London underworld.
Opens March 7