Sunday, August 17, 2008

"The Bank Job" (Roger Donaldson, 2008)

Heist films of the past several years (namely the Ocean's series) revel in the caper itself. What kind of a crew do we need? The film goes on to explore the eccentricities of its several protagonists. What equipment do we need? Surely, some simple explosives and repelling devices are obvious. Then there is always some surprise device that heavily tilts the scales one way or the other. "The Bank Job" is a heist movie, but don't make the mistake of thinking it's just another clone. The film explores relatively unexplored territory for the "heist" movie: the fallout of the caper.

Within the first ten minutes, it seems that every character has been introduced. We may not know their place in the upcoming plot, but they all figure heavily. Very simply, a film that dares to keep all its cards face-up does not enjoy the luxury of twists. But "The Bank Job" isn't boring - it knows where it wants to go and efficiently propels us.

Efficient is the word that most comes to mind when describing this film. For instance (and this doesn't give anything away), the entire setup and bank robbery concludes at about the 1-hour mark. The film must have at least 20 minutes left right? What does "The Bank Job" choose to do with this extra time?

Remember the structure of "Ocean's 11" (Steven Soderbergh, 2001)? Soderbergh's caper spans the entirety of the film's running time. It takes a sequel to rummage through the opening film's fallout. "The Bank Job" manages to do both within one film.

Part of this is a smart move. The film's setting is in London of the 70s. Thus, the film makes no attempt to shock and awe us with the heist itself. So, back to the word efficient. The only ingredients in each scene are the pieces of information that we need. This quality can sometimes lend itself to short, curt scenes, but "The Bank Job" pulls off this tactic throughout the film and consequently establishes it as a sort of "style."

Let us return to the original question - what does "The Bank Job" do with the extra time? Again, it seems that most caper films choose to focus on the just that: the caper. And for good reason! It's fun and exciting to see how the perpetrators manage to pull off such a complicated plan. "Bank Job" wants to know what happens to those that lose their belongings. How do they react - with calculated resolve or with unfocused activity?

Although the two film's aren't comparable (in esteem or subject matter), I think they are in subtle tonality - "The Queen" (Stephen Frears, 2006) and "The Bank Job." Nothing flashy. No surprises. Efficient filmmaking. Previously, I have thought of "The Queen" as close to a "perfect" film as possible. A perfect film is one in which you would not change any thing about it - scene, dialogue, production design, etc. In my opinion this leads to an efficient film.

In retrospect, "The Bank Job" isn't as good as I thought it would be. Now, this comes after hearing the buzz surrounding a better-than-average film released at a lesser-than-average box office time. It's good. Maybe a 7 out of 10. No masterpiece, but if you want an example of contemporary efficient filmmaking, check out "The Bank Job." And a good efficient film is better than an inconsistent and longer piece.

1 comment:

Farzan said...

Interesting review. I actually liked the movie and gave it a B.

p.s cool blog, keep up the good work