As the lights dim and the opening credits roll, the movie’s title is followed by the infamous tagline, “Based on a True Story.”
However, it rapidly becomes apparent that the true story is not a bank robbery, but rather the sexcapades of a variety of individuals with English accents. Within the first five seconds, a female breast fills the screen, followed by a sexual tryst caught on film.
These pictures will go on to be quite important, but in the meantime, “The Bank Job” decides to head over to a strip club, not having gotten its fill of sexuality in the opening scene. As we slowly get to know the wide variety of lowlifes involved, we learn that Terry Leather (Jason Stratham) is a down-on-his-luck owner of a car restoration business. Leather is in debt to an unpleasant loan shark, and just when his financial straits seem dire, a lady friend from the past invites him to help her rob a bank.
Meanwhile, a few other things that do not yet relate to the story are revealed. Michael X, a prominent black-power leader, stands trial for assault charges. Meanwhile, some proper-looking English gentlemen are photographed in some further sexual trysts.
Finally, with a forgettable 45-minute opening under its belt, “Bank Job” gets underway. However, the film gets lost in the middle of the robbery, as the events become simply silly. Predictably, the bank robbers are secretly in the service of British intelligence, working to recover the film of the sexual tryst shown at the start of the movie, which is held in the bank vault.
“Bank Job” ultimately suffers by trying to be two things at once: a “true story” on the one hand and soft-core porn on the other. Not only is a bumbling team of small-time criminals tasked with robbing a bank, facing the betrayal of a critical team member, but the leader fails to abort the operation, make the kill or really take any sort of action other than to have sex with the betrayer. Apparently they skipped that day in Bank Robbing 101 called “Don’t Get Caught.”
As the film is something of a thriller, it would be inappropriate to comment much further on the plot, but with an epic running time of two hours and 40 minutes, rest assured that there is plenty of space for development. And the plot does in fact thicken, but unless the film is “The Godfather” or “Lord of the Rings” (and “Bank Job” clearly isn’t), there is no real need for such length. In fact, if most of the unnecessary nudity had been dropped from the film, it might have made for a much more reasonable running time.
“Bank Job” attempts to be a new “Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels,” but falls tragically short. While the film has the required collection of English hooligans, both the comedic lines and bursts of action found in “Lock, Stock” are largely neglected here.
Ultimately, it no longer matters who gets to live or die, or what happens to the bloody photographs. The film cannot hold the audience’s attention span for the full length, as the characters are a forgettable lot of rogues.