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Category:    Home > Reviews > Crime > Heist > Action > British > The Bank Job (2008/Blu-ray + DVD-Video/Lionsgate)

The Bank Job (2008/Blu-ray + DVD-Video/Lionsgate)


Picture: B+/C+     Sound: B+/B-     Extras: B     Film: B



The heist film has seen a more commercial arc of late, from the Mission: Impossible films to The Italian Job remake to the comic, underrated Mad Money, but it is as much a British and French Crime Genre film-type as anything American and an impressive, underrated example that did surprise business for Lionsgate (who should he pushed it even more upon original release) is from the very able-bodied filmmaker Roger Donaldson (White Sands, The World’s Fastest Indian) has created a terrific one with The Bank Job.


Based on a real case from 1971, a sports car garage shop owner Terry (Jason Statham) is in debt to a gangster who wants his money, lucking out when an old flame (Saffron Burrows of Fay Grim) lets him in on a potential goldmine of a bank heist.  From a tip she got “from a friend” she is trying to get a group together to do the robbery and needs his help.  He is married with children and has misgivings, but things start to fall into place and the robbery is on.


However, explicit picture of group sex wit a member of The Royal Family are the real prize, which the government wants back, especially since they are being used by a controversial Black Supremist (Peter De Jersey) to do what he wants in and out of the U.K. and get the government to cover for him.  Terry has no idea of this and things are about to get more complicated.


The screenplay by Dick Clement (The Two Ronnies) and Ian La Frenais (both of whom co-wrote some material uncredited for the 1983 Sean Connery James Bond film Never Say Never Again) is their best feature film work to date after penning several recent bombs (Across The Universe, Flushed Away) with rich storytelling that never lets up and a density that makes you believe this is taking place in its original time.  The cast is also top notch, including Peter Bowles (The Avengers, Blow-Up, The Bounder), Rupert Frazier, Stephen Campbell Moore, Daniel Mays, James Faulkner (Nicolas Roeg’s Eureka), Alki David, Michael Jibson, Christopher Owen (Doctor Who), David Suchet (Poirot) and Sharon Maughan (Return Of The Saint and the famous Taster’s Choice/Nescafé coffee TV ads, hilarious here as a Madame) make for one of the liveliest, strongest extended casts I have seen in any film in a long time.


Statham proves he can act without doing karate to death, succeeding Snatch as the best film he has made to date, but this is also one of those films I believe will build up a great reputation and benefit all involved.  However, I also have to give credit to Donaldson, who is a very underrated director and has made a film as smart as his ever-underrated White Sands.  Don’t miss it!



The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image was shot in with new digital High Definition camera called the Arriflex D-20, previously used with less effectiveness on some TV productions and lower-profile foreign productions, but it is very impressively applied here by Director of Photography by Michael Coulter, B.S.C., whose previous work was glossy and/or comic features (Love Actually, Notting Hill, Four Wedding & A Funeral) plus my least favorite Robert Altman film (Mansfield Park).  He makes the HD look like film in the use of slightly dull colors typical of the labwork you’d get from British thrillers, even if some of the work is post-production.  There is still some motion blur and detail issues, but they are minor and may be the sacrifice that had to be made to get he color correct, as this is early digital HD and not as good as film.  The Blu-ray looks very good, though the anamorphically enhanced DVD is not as good, with pale Video Black and more motion blur.


As compared to some other HD productions we liked, it is not as colorful as Youth Without Youth, sports a different kind of dark look than The Lookout or Fincher’s Zodiac and even varies from the different digital HD used on Before The Devil Knows You’re Dead, but distinct and as distinct as those early HD achievements.  These are still too few versus the HD productions to date.


Both versions have Dolby Digital 5.1 EX, though the Blu-ray only offers this in French, yet all are far surpassed by the DTS HD Master Audio (MA) 7.1 lossless track on the Blu-ray with a fine soundfield, good sound effects, well-recorded dialogue that are all richer and more vivid and any Dolby choice on either disc.  The use of hit songs of the time and new score by J. Peter Robinson (World’s Fastest Indian) all work well, making for a distinct soundmix that has great balance and moves the narrative forward.  The combination on HD of picture and DTS is the best form Lionsgate to date.


Extras on both versions include a bonus DVD allows for a free digital download of the film for PCs and potable computer-oriented devices.  You also get the original theatrical trailer, two great featurettes (Inside The Bank Job, The Baker Street Bank Raid), deleted/extended scenes with optional audio commentary and a great feature length audio commentary by Donaldson, Burrows and Robinson.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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