Bank Job, The (US - BD RA)
Gabe gathers the crew for one of Jason Statham's most adult aimed features...
Terry (Jason Statham), a small-time crook on his way out of the business of crime, is offered an easy heist by an old friend and lover (Saffron Burrows). Terry assembles a motley crew of low-rung criminals, and goes about pulling off the bank job. But unknown to any of them, the true purpose behind the robbery will stick them deep into hock with ruthless mobsters, corrupt police, and dangerous government officials at the highest level.
It’s nice to see Statham taking a trip half back to his Guy Ritchie beginnings, but with a post-Matthew Vaughn adult tone. This film is flippant and lively, but not gleefully childish like Lock Stock or Snatch (not that there is a thing wrong with either of those films or their styles). The ‘based on a true story’ bit helps keep things from getting too outré (much like Vaughn’s debut Layer Cake). The dialogue is still whip smart, but it isn’t too flowerily, and the characters are only a couple inches larger then real life.
I didn’t recognize director Rodger Donaldson’s name, and assumed that based on The Bank Job’s energy, vigour, and, well, virility he was some kind of next gen, music video trained upstart, but he was the guy behind enjoyably brain-dead tripe like Species and Dante’s Peak, genuine class like World’s Fastest Indian and Thirteen Days, and vomitus trash like Cocktail and The Getaway remake. I probably should’ve remembered his name because he also directed the bland yet effective The Recruit. Based on his filmography, we know Donaldson is a work horse, but he’s only as good as his script, and he often lacks an original voice or flare. For this film he gets a boost from the real story’s time period and setting—early 1970s London.
The Bank Job is a very fun time, but apparently real life looks a bit like an average Hollywood heist flick. The film doesn’t really have a twist, it just sort of turns into a different kind of movie about half way through, which was enough to keep me watching with a smile, but not enough to make me drool for a second viewing. In fact, the focus on the post-heist actions, getting away with the ‘bank job’, is rather in-keeping with the Guy Ritchie and Matthew Vaughn Brit-flicks. This movie isn’t special because it’s based on a true story, because the story is like all the other stories (though I have to admit that the fact that this happened does add some tang to the flavour), this movie is special because it’s well written and acted, and because Donaldson knows how to shoot a camera.
I actually expected a grainier look for the film, based on my preconception of period and cockney crime films. This full 1080p, 2.35:1 transfer is pretty spotless overall (with the exception of some of the darker scenes), likely due to the source material’s digital origin. There’re no jagged edges, blocky noise or enhancement around here, though the actual detail isn’t quite as sharp as other digital source discs I’ve seen (meaning only that I couldn’t see every grain of dirt or facial pore). The colour schemes and production are generally life-like. There’s definite vibrancy, but there’s no super-stylish pop. Some of the brightest warm colours bleed a tiny bit. Black levels are mostly deep, though I wouldn’t call most of them true black, and some of the brightest reflections, even off of skin, are a bit too edgy.
My system does downgrade the DTS Master Audio a tad, but even barring that, and the missing two channels of the 7.1, I can say that this is a successful and full blooded track, at least considering the generally realistic production of the mix. I’m not very impressed with J. Peter Robinson’s rather generic score, but it does maintain presence throughout the stereo and surround channels almost the entire film. There are some lively and crisp action effects, and the roar of the jackhammer is big without distortion, but for the most part this is a music and dialogue centric track, with effectively tight bass and clear sound at varying volume levels.
Our disc begins with a commentary featuring director Roger Donaldson, actress Saffron Burrows and composer J. Peter Robinson. The track is pretty lethargic, as if the information is being forced from the participants at gun point, especially on Donaldson’s part, but it is informative. I actually learned a bit (the ‘female fur’ was almost all fake), though not a whole lot about the true story, as I assumed I would. The lethargy ebbs and flows a bit (Burrows has a few fun interjections), but listening to it was a chore overall.
‘Inside The Bank Job’ talks a little more about the original robbery, but mostly in how it led to the film’s production. Apparently the film was originally conceived around the time of the actually robbery, but was put into production purely as a vehicle for Statham. The featurette is built like a basic EPK, but the various elements of the film are explored in a more detail than normal. In the end these seventeen minutes are more about talking up the film rather than talking about the film, but it works alright.
‘The Baker Street Bank Raid’ is a welcomed historical look at the robbery that inspired the film. The classy featurette is packed with footage from the film, but it also features some meaty historical footage, photos and sound clips, and some top interviews with experts. The mini-doc is pretty speedy (only fifteen minutes), but still takes the time to put the story into the appropriate context, for all us non-Britons that have no idea about the differences of certain areas of London during the 1960s and ‘70s. The film’s entire character drama is made up, but the basic facts of the robbery are correct. The grey area comes with all the political drama, which I’ll avoid going into for spoiler purposes.
This is followed by a series of deleted and extended scenes, presented in hi-def and un-scored stereo, with optional Donaldson, Robinson and Burrows commentary. These aren’t presented as separate chapter stops, just as one long reel, running about six minutes. Most of the cuts are very, very short, and they were all trimmed to keep the plot moving. None of the scenes really offer anything to the plot or characters. Things end with a bunch of Lionsgate trailers. For those of you interested in soon to be obsolete technology, the set’s second disc is a digital copy of the film.
I’m actually a little disappointed in The Bank Job overall based on its critical pedigree, but all in all this is a solid film, with a nicely realistic performance from Statham. Jason’s fans really should be seeing it. I was really hoping for an English Dog Day Afternoon, but the suspense, humour, characters, and drama aren’t up to that level of perfection. Perhaps I was expecting too much, but all I’ve got here is a largely entertaining and modest thriller.
* Note: The images on this page are not representative of the Blu-ray release.
Review by Gabriel Powers
Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian
Release Date: 15th July 2008
Disc Type: Blu-ray Disc
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 English, Dolby Digital 5.1 French
Subtitles: English HoH, French, Spanish
Extras: Director/Actor/Compser Commentary, Inside the Bank Job, The Baker Street Raid, Deleted and Extended Scenes, Digital Copy, Trailers
Easter Egg: No
Director: Roger Donaldson
Cast: Jason Statham, Saffron Burrows, Stephen Campbell Moore, Daniel Mays, James Faulkner
Genre: Comedy and Drama
Length: 110 minutes
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