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Heroes of the Zeroes: The Bank Job

by on January 27, 2010
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Heroes of the Zeroes is Nick Rogers’ daily, alphabetical look back at the 365 best films of 2000-2009.

“The Bank Job”
Rated R

For all the collateral damage done in the name of Britain’s crown, 2008’s “The Bank Job” rivetingly chronicled one deeply conspiratorial bit.

More than fellow Aussie Phillip Noyce (and excepting “The Recruit”), Roger Donaldson excelled last decade after studio jobs like “Species” and “Dante’s Peak.” Based on a true story, “The Bank Job” indicted British impropriety with powder-keg energy wrapped in Donaldson’s prototypically professional package. (He should know a thing or two about historical effects of British colonization.)

Jason Statham is Terry, who leads amateur robbers to pilfer the safe-deposit boxes of a posh London bank. He doesn’t know about a cabal of bad-behaving British royals, corrupt cops and a porn king who’ll kill to get their hands on the bounty.

The linchpin is a violent black activist/gangster sucking at an increasingly larger portion of the British underground’s teat and ruffling royal feathers. As some characters brazenly assert colonial imperatives, race and class commentary abound and “The Bank Job” eventually takes a vividly violent turn.

That doesn’t keep it from great-heist high points (in which names were changed “to protect the guilty”). Disturbed fast-food customers spark a particularly close call, and three layers of impeccable suspense arise from one ham radio. Statham also recaptures more of his light charisma and less brute-force clubbing a la “The Transporter” (although he does tee off at one crucial moment).

“The Bank Job” hummed along on its subtext of subjugation by lords over commoners — a long con through history rumbling from royals to rogues.