Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

The Bank Job (Second review)

(UK, 2007)

I think British people would know a lot more about this based-on-fact story than I did, going in. It’s about what came to be known as the Baker Street Robbery, which at the time was the largest amount of money stolen from anyone, ever. And it wasn’t pulled off by an Ocean’s Eleven type gang of genius specialists, but by ordinary working stiffs. That they got as far as they did was helped a lot by the ineptness of Scotland Yard, who were listening in on their radio conversations! They knew a tunnel was being dug, but they didn’t know which bank was being robbed, and they never found it until the vault was opened up on Monday. Then … catastrophe!

The bare bones of the plot are largely accurate. The producers went to a great deal of trouble to reproduce the exact location where the thieves rented an empty storefront and dug under a bakery to get to the vault, where they had to use some pretty heavy duty equipment to break through. But once inside they found a cornucopia of safe deposit boxes. They opened every one of them, and absconded.

And here is where it gets into speculation, and a lot of fun. There were, and still are, many unanswered questions, and the writers exploit all of them. One theory is that one of the reasons why the cops were so tardy is that they were held back by MI5 or MI6 (what’s the diff, and who cares?), who were desperate to recover scandalous photos of Princess Margaret cavorting in a sexual threesome. And this film names her! Well, everyone knew she was the wild one, and you can’t libel the dead.

Another thing that is real is that there was certainly a huge amount of embarrassing stuff in those boxes, from undeclared cash to pictures and films of high government officials engaged in sex with underage boys or unsavory S&M stuff. Several politicians resigned. And it is a fact that quite a few boxholders never reported their losses, because it would be evidence of a crime.

Oh, this is a lot of fun. I really liked it. These robbers were not idiots, exactly, but they made some really dumb mistakes. Like, the guy who rented the empty storefront rented it in his own name! Most of the crooks were rounded up pretty quickly, but several were never caught. None of the money and other stuff ever turned up. The ones who were caught served eight years. Was a fortune waiting for them when they got out? Who knows?

The star here is Jason Statham, who I tend to like in his straight action thrillers. He’s got a strong screen presence, and seems like a working-class bloke, as he is here. This is a departure for him, as there is almost no violence. I highly recommend this one.