Forget the blandly generic title and the casting of B-action star Jason Statham, a stalwart tough guy with stocky presence and limited range. The British-made The Bank Job (2008), based on (or more accurately inspired by) the real life 1971 “Walkie-Talkie Robbery” where thieves made off with the contents of hundreds of safety deposit boxes, is a terrific piece of heist filmmaking made with a rough-and-tumble attitude and old-school professionalism.
Statham plays a family man with a dodgy past who puts together a colorful crew of small-timers on a moment’s notice for the job a lifetime, or so promises an old flame (Saffron Burrows) with her own agenda. They soon realize that some serious heavyweights had compromising things stashed in those boxes and will do whatever it takes to get them back.
Roger Donaldson juggles a complicated story with oodles of peripheral characters and tangled storylines (involving everyone from gangland bosses to government agents to the royal family) without dropping a subplot, and he drives the action and the tension with muscular storytelling chops. Best of all, he returns the genre to the physicality of logistics and practical mechanics in an era before cell phones and computer hacks. The sprawling messiness only adds to the dynamism. Stephen Campbell Moore co-stars as Statham’s right-hand man and watch for David Suchet (Poirot) in a small role as a mob boss.