The Bank Job (2008) Review

Expose or Not, The Bank Job is an Incredibly Fun Film

Jason Statham top bills this impressive action-heist movie that is based upon the infamous Baker Street Robbery. If you are a big fan of crime movies or have a deep interest in real crimes, then it is likely that you would have heard of The Bank Job when it was originally released. Most of the media buzz that surrounded this film was that the film was made based on inside information about the heist and that there was more involved than just a bunch of thieves robbing a bank.

  • Rating:
    4.00 out of 5
  • Length: 1 hr. 51 min.
  • Premiere: 28th February 2008 (UK)
  • Category: Mystery & Suspense/Drama
  • Directors: Roger Donaldson
  • Writer: Ian La Frenais/Dick Clement
  • Stars: Jason Statham, Saffron Burrows, Richard Lintern

The Heist

In the film, Martine is an ex-model who is caught on drug related charges. She makes a deal (thanks to her connection with an MI5 agent), to take on a case that has been a problem for the government in exchange for her freedom. As it turns out, there is a dangerous militant who cannot be arrested since he holds compromising photographs of Princess Margaret –these are stored in a bank security box. To get the photographs, Martine teams up with Terry under the pretense of simply wanting to rob the bank. Terry assembles a team and they proceed with the plan to rob the bank. While the heist itself goes pretty well (despite a few very close calls), due to the nature of the many items in the security boxes, the crew quickly find themselves inviting more trouble than expected.

What Really Happened

To understand the film, it is important to have even a brief idea of the real Baker Street Robbery. The security deposit boxes of Lloyds Bank was targeted by criminals. In order to gain access, the robbers first rented a store in the same block (it was a leather goods shop named Le Sac). From there, they dug an underground tunnel that completely passed a restaurant in between Le Sac and Lloyds. The process of digging was reported to have taken the weekends of three weeks. During the heist itself, there was a rooftop lookout who assisted the robbers. Their radio conversations were overheard and reported to the police, though the conversations did not provide enough information –as such, the police did not know which bank was being robbed.

What makes the robbery significant, is that aside from the fact that the heist itself was impressive, was the fact that the government issued a D-Notice (short for Defence Notice, and it basically mandates something akin to a media blackout for the sake of national security in the United Kingdom). The sudden need for secrecy behind the issue has given rise to a number of theories about the nature of the crime and of the stolen goods themselves. Some of the theories are simple, like the method of theft was kept secret so that other banks could take countermeasures before the information was made public. While many are more complex –the most common, and the one followed by The Bank Job, is that hidden in the security boxes are things that are potentially dangerous to the government.

Of course, filmmakers have clarified that the scandalous photos are not real, nor are several elements of the film. However, many instances are close to real life. The dialogue even includes some of the recorded lines that were reported to the police. Some elements were also downplayed as well –in reality, explosives were also used to get into the bank, but this was not shown on film as viewers may think it was too unrealistic.

History is not a Priority

Whether the filmmakers are truly giving out the expose they claimed the film was supposed to be or this is simply another example of judicial use of creative freedom, one thing is certain: the movie is exciting and fun. The actual heist itself will have you holding your breath in suspense as the crew deals with the most unexpected of problems. Then the movie gets into stride as the reality of the crime falls down on the shoulders of the robbers themselves –stealing money is one thing, but compromising security boxes invites the personal ire of the owners of the boxes. And this matter is compounded when one of their security box owners also happens to be a crime lord.

The film’s narrative gets its strength from both the real and fictional events that it portrays, and in many cases, the fictional parts are more interesting than what really happened. And that is a good thing, since the point of the movie is to give viewers a good time –not educate them on history.