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07.30.08

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Phaedra

The Bank Job

One or two discs; $29.95/$34.98

By Michael S. Gant


The real-life 1971 bank robbery that forms the basis for The Bank Job is so fascinating that it's hard to believe that it could be turned into a clichéd caper film. The break-in at Lloyd's Bank on Baker Street involved some extreme tunneling and plenty of inside knowledge; the haul included not just cash but, possibly, some incriminating photos of a member of the royal family (which is why the whole case was hushed up for years). In this fictionalized re-creation, the working-class thieves are led by Terry Leather (Jason Statham), who gets recruited to the job by an ex-girlfriend (Saffron Burrows). Unbeknownst to Tony, she has been turned into a mole by some British secret police, who are worried about some scandalous pictures in one of the safe-deposit boxes. The film evokes the swinging London atmosphere most effectively captured in Nicolas Roeg and Donald Cammell's Performance. Here and there, especially in the subplot about a local porn-movie magnate, the dialogue sizzles with flavorful Cockney underworld slang. But then there is Statham. As an action hero, Statham functions with bristling efficiency, but he can't stretch far enough to create a genuine character. The film is also hampered by yet another subplot about a charlatan black-power leader and an undercover spy. The extra about the history of the robbery proves to be more engrossing (and a lot shorter) than the film. The two-disc version includes a digital download.


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