Some movies include stupid characters. The Bank Job includes a universe where everyone is stupid, and their stupidity is calculated and necessary to keep the plot going.
If any one group involved: the robbers, the criminals who are after them, the British Secret Service, the cops, the by-standers, everyone. weren’t so stupid the caper and the movie would be finished. Its lazy writing and very annoying. You can suspend disbelief, you don’t have to suffer lame ass scripting though.
To start with, whoever built the bank managed to sink the foundation pilings for a vault less than a foot over a huge, crumbling 17th century mausoleum. It would seem like that would render a multi-story bank, plus a fucking bankvault, unstable, but no, it works because it gets the idiot robbers into the safety deposit boxes.
I’ve worked construction, and there are some tiny points that don’t jibe with reality, but are convenient to the plot, and therefore not only annoying to anyone who’s not an idiot, but indicative of a script-writer who either is a moron himself or thinks his audience is.
The robbers start off digging a tunnel under a fast-food chicken take-out joint, which is next to the bank, from a shop they rent. They use no pilings or anything else, they just dig and pile up a small hill of dirt in the basement. Dirt doesn’t even sift down as they use a jack-hammer (through DIRT? There are specialized tools for digging in dirt, a jack-hammer is for concrete), during business hours, shaking the fuck out of the business above, a fast-food chicken spot. The cops are called, come barging in, see nothing, move on. You’d think they’d be a tiny bit suspicious what the fuck kind of ‘remodelling’ you’d be doing that would involve a jackhammer tunneling under the business next door, but that would end the story, so the robber’s stupidity is trumped by the cops, and we move on.
One small point, the cops get a perfectly good look at the fake “proprietor” of this art-business, but this was forgotten in one of the re-writes, I guess, and the fact that they got a look at his face is never mentioned again, which will be significant in a moment.
Next, they accidentally crash through the tunnel floor into the fore-mentioned mausoleum, which conveniently gets them right to the center of the bank vault. They do no measuring or anything remotely competent like that, they just dead-reckon I guess, while loudly wondering if they are going to come up under the chicken shop.
A few idiotic moves they make (via flashbacks, de rigeur since Pulp Fiction, the action jumps from the present to the past with no warning so you’re left wondering, “Is this going on now or is this a falshback?” constantly, but really, it hardly matters) during all this, which will be essential to moving the plot later: they rather obviously take numerous photos outside the bank while casing it, when they spot someone who knows them, they make damn sure the guy sees them and understands exactly who they are; he turns out to be a crook whose ledger they inadvertently steal who will want it back: seeing them taking the photos gives him all the proof he needs to track them down later when the script calls for it. Lame on several counts, but moving on.
since she’s not naked in The Bank Job, here is Saffron Burrows full frontal bush in “Klimt” and “Deep Blue Sea” and A Loss of Sexual Innocence”
The crooks also order take out from the chicken shop, so that the delivery boy will be able to identify them. Weirdly, it requires the delivery boy to identify the con man they have running the shop, when the earlier mentioned cop also saw him. Guess he didn’t have the memory for faces this kid did. Anyway, the fact this kid can identify them gives the cops a lead, which they wouldn’t have if not for, again, the total ineptitude of the robbers. They are practically begging the cops to put them (and this movie) out of its misery, but no such luck.
Another comedy of stupidity (remember, this is not an intentionally comedic movie): After the cops come the first time, the robbers decide they need a lookout as they continue to jack-hammer dirt, which caused a complaint the first time. What good a lookout will do if the cops decide to actually look in the basement and see the huge mound of dirt and the tunnel in the floor, since there is no other way out of the place, I have no idea, but this lookout is necessary to the plot, so we get one.
He proceeds to stupidly talk to them quite openly about the robbery on walkie-talkie while looking out. He is overheard by a HAM radio operator (one of the few non-retards in the film), who alerts the cops. But, luckily for the plot and unluckily for us, the viewing public, the cops are so inept they can’t come up with a plan to hone in on where the robbery is exactly. They do go to the bank, they go to all the banks in the city I guess, and they hear the lookout report cops are there, but since they are also at a dozen or more other banks at that same instant, they can’t use this information. The cops check the outside of the vault, see nothing amiss and leave.
They also have an ambulance going from bank to bank running its siren so they hope to hear it on the look-out’s walkie-talkie and pinpoint them that way. Just as it arrives out front, wouldn’t you know it, the lookout stupidly drops the walkie-talkie, so he can’t report the ambulance, which would have ended the movie. Yet again, saved by stupidity.
So, unfettered by the idiot cops, even though they are the worst robbers in history, they arrive under the vault with their magic torch which burns instantly through concrete and steel. Again, I’ve been involved in the form-work which goes into a bank vault. It is composed of multiple layers of concrete, densely webbed with high-gauge rebar. They touch their magic laser beam (this is supposed to be take place in the ’70’s, I forgot to mention) and it instantly breaks through the floor as a chunk of concrete and steel about 2 foot square, just big enough to get through, pops loose.
None of the idiots are squashed by this, unfortunately, so they look through the hole, see they are in, and decide to TAKE A NAP and start rifling the boxes after a quick snooze.
So, long about daylight, the Keystone Kops still unable to figure out which bank they are robbing, despite hearing them chat about it, and reduced to hoping they happen to mention the name of the bank, the robbers yawn, fart, stretch and scratch their balls and go to work bashing in the boxes and stealing the stuff.
The back story is there are embarrassing photos of a member of the royal family fucking a black militant there (we walked in late, dunno how the M15 knew this) so the Brit SS sets up this heist to get the photos. Also, there happen to be films and snapshots of high-ranking members of the British government cavorting in a whorehouse, kept there by a madam. Also, a crimelord’s crime ledger, including payouts to dirty cops, stupidly mentioned by their actual names, which again comes in handy.
So now all these elements are after the robbers, and due to the above mentioned stupidity, they are quickly tracked down and non-essential members are quickly killed off.
The main characters work out a deal which gets them off scott-free, allowed to keep all their ill-gotten gains, and gets the criminals and black militants and crooked cops jailed. No price is paid by Stratham’s character for ripping off innocent members of the public, who aren’t corrupt politicians or mobsters, who lose their stuff from the safety-deposit boxes. Yet we’re supposed to root for his I guess, because he’s just a family man trying to make life better for his kids.
Excuse me, but he’s a selfish, depraved fuck who endangers his entire family (the mob does sometimes target families, no?) with his criminal bullshit, gets his co-conspirators killed with his bad decisions and ends up rich and happy. Why doesn’t he go out and get a fucking JOB, like the guys in the chicken joint, or the bank tellers, or the cops. No, he’s presented as some sort of hero for robbing “for the kids”.
The people whose shit was ripped off are shit out of luck.
The movie ends with the ring-leader, married with 2 kids, just trying to get ahead he says, just trying to make things better for his family, what a great Dad, spear-fishing in the tropics, living it up on his stolen loot. We are supposed to take this as a happy ending, I guess, but I was wishing the entire group dead.
There is a side plot where the dumbest fucking secret agent ever gets caught searching the black militant’s house for the negatives of the scandalous photos and gets macheted, which was telegraphed way earlier when she scoffed at the notion the militant was at all dangerous, and we’re informed he got the chair for it.
Because this was all a true story you see, despite the fact that the M15 guys claim they are going to “D Certify” the entire issue, causing a press blackout. So, when they do that, you can’t mention it in public in any way, but you can make a movie about it I guess.
I learned from this movie that in Britain there is no free press and cops can just push you aside and enter your business at any time. Also, the entire British government, police force and secret service is corrupt to the highest levels and engaging in criminal behaviour, murder and theft, and then cover it up by muzzling the press.
But we all knew that.
Another short note: I happened to watch an old caper movie, The Getaway, the original with Steve McQuenn, not he execrable remake with Baldwin and Bassinger,
It was gritty and real. The actors were rumpled and dirty when they did something that would cause them to be, unlike this movie, where the women are perfectly coiffed, even after hours in a tunnel and no one ever gets dirty. In The Getaway, the cars are dusty and dirty and dented. In the Bank Job, every single vehicle is a vintage 70’s model, buffed to a highly waxed polish, all glass surfaces clear as pure spring water, and shine like the sun, including a fucking construction van. They are so pristine its ridiculous. They LOOK like vintage showroom models, about to be exhibited in a vintage car show.
Also, ALL window glass is completely clear and free of the tiniest smudge, even the windows on the empty storefront they rent, when they are first taking possession, there are boxes scattered about by the art directors, but it looks like an immaculate set, not a deserted store front. By contrast, The Getaway used all practical locations, so the bank, the motel rooms, the crook’s office, were all realistically dingy and cheap and REAL. The mirror in Ali MacGraw and Steve McQueen’s motel room looks like its NEVER been cleaned, as it should be.
There are a number of other pissant problems with the movie, like the lack of one single recognizable star. The sole actor I’d even seen before was a bit part player from Four Weddings and a Funeral. I suspect they were all Brit TV actors, and not very good ones at that.
If you want your intelligence insulted, see The Bank Job.