'The Bank Job' A seemingly perfect bank heist goes wrong when thieves in London are overheard on ham radio. Based (loosely) on a real-life 1971 robbery, the film's an amusingly detailed, pleasantly plausible fiction.
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Arts & Life

'The Bank Job'

Terry (Jason Statham) is a small-time crook who tries a big-time heist — and stumbles into an enormous scandal — in The Bank Job. Jack English/Lionsgate hide caption

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Jack English/Lionsgate
  • Director: Roger Donaldson
  • Genre: Thriller
  • Running Time: 110 minutes

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London's "walkie-talkie bank job" of 1971 got its name when a ham-radio operator picked up conversations between burglars and a lookout and reported them to police. From that nugget of fact, the filmmakers have created an amusingly detailed, vaguely plausible fiction — a bank heist caper involving royal sexcapades, the British secret service, a brothel that caters to members of Parliament, bungling bobbies who coddle curmudgeonly crooks, and a good deal of frenetic tunneling.

Director Roger Donaldson, with writers Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais, has found ways to give things a comic twist (or six) without actually turning the film into an outright comedy, and in Jason Statham, they have an agreeably poker-faced leading man. If the result rarely feels very urgent, it's still plausibly acted and decently plotted, and it has a pleasantly old-fashioned feel to it — along with a crackerjack last 10 minutes.