The Bank Job

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The Bank Job
Bank job ver2.jpg
Promotional film poster
Directed byRoger Donaldson
Produced by
Written by
Starring
Music byJ. Peter Robinson
CinematographyMichael Coulter
Edited byJohn Gilbert
Production
company
Distributed byLionsgate
Release date
  • 29 February 2008 (2008-02-29) (UK)
Running time
112 minutes
CountryUnited States
United Kingdom
Australia[1]
LanguageEnglish
BudgetUS $20 million[2]
Box officeUS $64.8 million[3]

The Bank Job is a 2008 heist thriller film directed by Roger Donaldson, written by Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais, and starring Jason Statham, based on the 1971 Baker Street robbery in central London, from which the money and valuables stolen were never recovered. The producers allege that the story was prevented from being told in 1971 because of a D-Notice, allegedly to protect a prominent member of the British Royal Family.[4][5] According to the producers, this film is intended to reveal the truth for the first time,[6] although it includes significant elements of fiction.

The premiere was held in London on 18 February 2008. The film was released in the UK on 29 February 2008 and in the US on 7 March 2008. It has grossed $64.8 million worldwide.

Plot[edit]

The British Security Services (MI5) have taken interest in a safety deposit box that is located in a Lloyd's Bank branch on the corner of Baker Street and Marylebone Road. It belongs to a black militant gangster, Michael X, and contains compromising photos of Princess Margaret,[7] which he is keeping as insurance to keep the British authorities off his back. Martine Love, an ex-model who is romantically involved with MI5 agent Tim Everett, is caught at Heathrow Airport smuggling drugs into the country, and to avoid going to jail, she makes a deal with the authorities whereby she agrees to retrieve the photos.

Martine approaches her friend Terry, a struggling East London car salesman with criminal contacts, and tells him that if he can assemble the gang to help her rob the bank, he will be richly rewarded, though she does not tell him about the photos in the deposit box. Terry recruits a small team, including one of his own workers, Eddie, Dave, Kevin, Bambas, and Guy Singer. While scouting the bank, Dave runs into local gangster Lew Vogel, for whom he has made several pornographic films.

The gang rents a leather goods shop near the bank and tunnels into the vault. They loot the safety deposit boxes, but Terry becomes suspicious when Martine seems to display intense interest in one box. The police are alerted to the robbery by a ham radio operator who overhears the gang's walkie-talkie communications, but by the time they locate the bank, the gang has already gotten away. The robbery rattles many important underworld figures who had used the bank, including Lew Vogel, who kept a ledger of police payoffs inside. He notifies a furious Michael X in Trinidad, who correctly suspects Gale Benson - the lover of his associate Hakim Jamal - of spying for MI5, and subsequently murders her. Vogel decides that Dave’s presence outside that particular bank was not a coincidence, and has him kidnapped and tortured for information. Dave gives in, and Lew has Gerald Pyke and Nick Burton - two corrupt policemen working on his payroll - kidnap Eddie at Terry's garage. Meanwhile, Terry discovers explicit photographs of important government officials among their loot and uses them to secure passports and new identities for the gang.

Vogel's men track down and murder Bambas and Guy Singer. Eddie refuses to cooperate with Vogel, who has Gerald execute Dave and threatens to kill Eddie unless Terry delivers the ledger to him; Terry agrees to meet up with Vogel at Paddington Station to exchange the ledger for Eddie. He arranges for the meeting to happen at the same time as he will be picking up the new passports. Meanwhile, Terry sends Kevin to honest cop Roy Given with a page torn from the ledger. Vogel becomes spooked and tries to flee, but Terry attacks and beats him - only to be arrested by the police. However, Given has Terry released and uses the information he supplied to arrest Lew, Gerald and Nick. In Trinidad, Michael X is arrested as well. Eddie inherits Terry's car dealership, while Kevin and Martine prepare to begin new lives with their share of the money. Terry and his family leave England and enjoy a carefree life on a boat in a sunny location.

Cast[edit]

Historical background[edit]

The film is in part based on historical facts about the Baker Street robbery. A gang tunnelled into a branch of Lloyds Bank at the junction of Baker Street and Marylebone Road, in London, on the night of 11 September 1971 and robbed the safe deposit boxes that were stored in the vault. The robbers had rented a leather goods shop named Le Sac two doors down from the bank, and tunnelled a distance of approximately 40 feet (12 metres), passing under the Chicken Inn restaurant that was located between the shop and the bank.[5] The tunnelling took three weeks working on weekends.[5]

Robert Rowlands, a ham radio operator, overheard conversations between the robbers and their rooftop lookout. He contacted police and tape-recorded the conversations, which were subsequently made public. The film includes lines recorded by Rowlands, such as the lookout's comment that "Money may be your god, but it's not mine, and I'm fucking off."[8]

The film's producers said that they have an inside source, identified in press reports as George McIndoe, who was an executive producer.[9] The film's plot point of the issuance of a D-Notice by MI5 (requesting no further press reports, on grounds of national security), because a safe deposit box held sex pictures of Princess Margaret with London gangster-turned-actor John Bindon, is fictional. The possible connection to Michael X is apparently based on information provided by McIndoe, though the basis and extent of his information remains unclear. The Daily Mail interviewed a convicted robber, who claims to be a perpetrator and he indicated that embarrassing photos including child pornography were found but deliberately left behind for the police.[5] The film-makers acknowledged that they made up the character Martine, and David Denby in The New Yorker wrote that it is "impossible to say how much of the film's story is true".[10]

The fictitious character of Lew Vogel may in part allude to pornographer and racketeer Bernie Silver,[11] a key figure in Soho in the 1960s and early 1970s, who was imprisoned in 1975 for the 1956 murder of Tommy "Scarface" Smithson; and also to later events surrounding his associate the real-life pornographer James Humphreys. After an outcry in 1972 when The People published photographs of the head of the Metropolitan Police Flying Squad, Commander Kenneth Drury, spending a luxurious two-week holiday with Humphreys and their wives in Cyprus, a police raid on Humphreys' house uncovered a wallsafe containing a diary cataloguing detailed itemised payments to seventeen different officers. Humphreys was imprisoned for eight years in 1974 for wounding his wife's former lover. He then turned Queen's Evidence, testifying against some of Scotland Yard's most senior officers in two major corruption trials in 1977, for which he received a Royal Pardon and was released from prison.[12] In 1994 Humphreys was imprisoned for twelve months for living off the earnings of prostitutes.[13][14]

The film includes multiple historical grace notes. The outlandish introduction of Michael X's character showing him leading a landlord locked in a slave collar is not dramatic licence but is based on a similar historical incident.[15] An unremarked passing glance at a photo of John Lennon found in Michael X's safety deposit box is inspired by John Lennon's support for Michael X's "Black House" headquarters depicted in the film, and Lennon posting his bail.[16] A moment of great tension in the film, where the police visit the vault while the robbers are inside, did occur. Not only did the robbers use the thermal lance shown in the film, but also employed explosives. Contrary to the epilogue, Michael X was not tried and executed for the murder of Gale Benson, but rather for the murder of Joseph Skerritt, another commune member, who was found buried along with Benson. It is also not true that Michael X's personal files are to be kept classified until 2054.[17]

Production[edit]

Screenshot illustrating how a special outdoor set was constructed for production of the film.

Part of the filming took place on location at the offices of Websters, 136 Baker Street, where the rooftops were used for lookout locations. The exterior scenes of the bank and adjacent shops were done at Pinewood Studios on a specially constructed set of Baker Street, to retain an authentic feel of the period and to allow for greater control. This partial set was extended using visual effects.[18]

The production also shot on location inside the Aldwych Underground station, and at Paddington station as itself. The crew used Chatham Historic Dockyard to shoot the sequence at the side entrance of Paddington, where the final showdown between Terry and Lew Vogel takes place.[19]

Reception[edit]

The review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that 79% of critics gave the film positive reviews based on 144 reviews. The consensus reads: "Well cast and crisply directed, The Bank Job is a thoroughly entertaining British heist thriller."[20] Metacritic reports the film has an average score of 69 out of 100 based on 32 reviews.[21]

Box office performance[edit]

The film grossed US$64.8 million.[22] The film opened at No. 4 in North America and grossed US$5,935,256 in 1,603 cinemas.[23]

Soundtrack[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://lumiere.obs.coe.int/web/film_info/?id=30087
  2. ^ "The Bank Job Box Office Data". The Numbers. Nash Information Services. Retrieved 8 October 2011.
  3. ^ "The Bank Job (2008)". Box Office Mojo. 5 June 2008. Retrieved 11 April 2013.
  4. ^ Thorpe, Vanessa (11 March 2007). "Untold story of Baker Street bank robbery". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 25 May 2010.
  5. ^ a b c d "Bank job that opened the door on a royal sex scandal". Daily Mirror. 16 February 2008.
  6. ^ Production Information Archived 2 February 2008 at the Wayback Machine, Lionsgate UK website, Accessed 9 January 2008
  7. ^ "How MI5 raided a bank to get pictures of Princess Margaret" London Evening Standard 20 May 2007
  8. ^ Hoyle, Antonia (16 February 2008). "FOUND: Radio Ham's sensational tape of the bank heist 'that rescued compromising pictures of Princess Margaret'". Daily Mail. Retrieved 17 March 2008.
  9. ^ Lawrence, Will (15 February 2008). "Revisiting the riddle of Baker Street". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 17 March 2008.
  10. ^ Denby, David (10 March 2008). "Class Acts: "The Bank Job" and "The Duchess of Langeais"". The New Yorker. Retrieved 17 March 2008.
  11. ^ Byrnes, Paul (26 July 2008) "Review: The Bank Job", Sydney Morning Herald
  12. ^ Barry Cox, John Shirley and Martin Short (1977). The Fall of Scotland Yard. Penguin Books. ISBN 0-14-052318-9.
  13. ^ 'Emperor of porn' jailed for running prostitution ring, The Independent, 2 July 1994
  14. ^ Andrew Weir, Jimmy and Rusty, The Independent, 4 July 1994
  15. ^ Naughton, Philippe (23 June 1970). "Man In Michael X Centre led in 'slave collar'". The Times. London. Retrieved 13 November 2008.
  16. ^ Bill Harry, The John Lennon Encyclopedia.
  17. ^ The National Archives catalogue shows six files relating to Michael X, all of which were made public before the film was made. Unreleased files appear in the catalogue while still restricted, but there are none such relating to Michael X.
  18. ^ "The Bank Job. Making Of". iloura. Archived from the original on 6 July 2011.
  19. ^ Kent Film Office. "Kent Film Office The Bank Job Film Focus".
  20. ^ "The Bank Job Movie Reviews, Pictures". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 31 December 2008.
  21. ^ "The Bank Job Reviews, Ratings, Credits". Metacritic. Retrieved 7 March 2008.
  22. ^ "The Bank Job (2008)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 11 June 2008.
  23. ^ "The Bank Job (2008) – Weekend Box Office Results". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 10 March 2008.

External links[edit]