In a truth-is-stranger-than-fiction scenario that reportedly did happen, though perhaps not exactly this way, The Bank Job dramatically recreates the sensationalistic events surrounding the UK’s biggest bank heist ever: the so-called Walkie Talkie robbery of 1971. But since that raiding of safety deposit boxes at the targeted Lloyds Bank yielded all sorts of dirty little sex secrets connected to the highest levels of government and the royal family, and a resulting news blackout, the film may be conveniently playing more than a little with the truth.
Jason Statham is Terry Leather, the reluctant head crook and car-dealer family man with a dark past. He’s pestered into rounding up his equally shifty pals for the deed by Martine Love, an unusually persistent old flame, statuesque model and designated femme fatale played by Saffron Burrows, watch out, Leather. Lured against his better judgment into the seemingly easy cash scheme by a combination of personal money worries and the seductive charms of Love that he does his best to resist, Leather gets in way over his head. And with far-reaching political repercussions also touching on kinky politicians who could easily be upscale brothel mates of Eliot Spitzer, and local J’can Black Power radicals who have a set of weird sexual issues of their own.
Director Roger Donaldson (No Way Out) spins an intricate web of toxic layers of elaborate subterfuge and deceit that keeps both the thieves and audience on their collective toes. And where just about everyone is caught up in the murky psychological maze as to what’s real, or just predatory mind games by various shady players with lots to hide. But these heady hijinks ultimately deflate as a gritty collection of assembled journalistic details, with little solid dramatic scrutiny of dirty politics or shadowy personalities.