The Bank Job: What does it matter?

8 from email 23 March 2008

It’s good to have a resident film critic in the family.  Case in point: I saw The Bank Job in the theater last night.  I saw the preview for it, and it looked kinda fun, but I had no interest in seeing it until the Ebert & Roeper show recommended it last weekend.  I had also heard other critical acclaim for it.

It is based on an actual bank robbery in London that happened in 1971, which is a big ‘who cares’ in my book.  It was a little messy, and overall disappointing.  Now I want to address something based on something that Laura said.  When I’m watching a movie, I am not analyzing it.  I know if a film is good or bad not by the quality of acting, the set design or decoration, the soundtrack or direction, or any other of its myriad components.  I know if it is good by whether or not it takes me in.  It is a gut reaction — instinct takes over.  So even if it is conveying a basic story I’ve seen many times before, if it is told in a way that draws me in, I’m with it.

Later, after I’ve watched it, I am blessed with a pretty good memory which lets me recall the various elements that made it work. Afterwards, then, I can perform something of an analysis.

The problem with professional film critics may be that they see so many movies that all they do is look at the movie elements and cannot recognize the visceral feeling of being drawn into a movie.  This must be the explanation for all the positive reviews of The Bank Job, which I give a decisive thumbs down.  Now my analysis: I think it was trying to be a like Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels – crime and street thugs in London with a grey, washed out color scheme.  This one reminded me very much of Lock, Stock, with its look and feel, and that its star, Jason Statham, was also a prominent player in Lock, Stock, an ensemble piece.

The similarities end there.  The Bank Job isn’t worth watching.  I never became more than a little interested in the story, the characters, etc.  There were little subplots surrounding the bank heist, but nothing was particularly interesting, and overall the plot simply wasn’t compelling.  There was nothing overtly bad about the movie, but the plot deployment just didn’t work, and the whole thing was a failure.

The last movie I saw in the theater before this one was Jumper.  I thought afterward that, hey there was a lot of neat action and some cool sequences, but maybe there is something wrong with me – I just did not really get into it.  Then I came back and read the New York Times review of it, which called it a “dud,” and I thought ‘excellent – It’s not me!’  That gut instinct thing again – it just didn’t work.  But I’d still recommend Jumper over The Bank Job.

Today I watched 8 Mile, the Eminem movie.  Really not much happened in the entire film, and I would not recommend it to anyone who is not already a fan of Eminem or rap.  But it was a heck of a lot better than The Bank Job — at least I was interested to keep going with the main character.

OK, enough Bank Job trashing.  If you want a modern London crime drama, Lock, Stock is highly recommended, or you could even see Hitchcock’s Frenzy – not his masterpiece, but still not bad.  On the positive side from last night, I saw a preview of the new Ring-like film, Shutter, and of another film that looked intriguing – until the end of the preview, when the title was sprung upon me: Midnight Meat Train.  I kid you not.  I had a good chuckle over that.


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