Four Against the Bank

Movie review by
Brian Costello, Common Sense Media
Four Against the Bank Movie Poster Image
German action-comedy has lots of violence, language, sex.
  • NR
  • 2016
  • 96 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

No positive messages. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

No positive role models. 

Violence

Bank robbery, some gunshots. One lead character is an MMA fighter, resorts to violence or violent threats to get his way. One lead character is tied up while a character threatens to slice him into pieces, including cutting off his testicles. This tied-up character tries to escape by jumping out a window while tied up, falls on a landing below, shown injured. Lead characters talk of the violence they want to perpetrate on someone: talk of sticking tacks in his eyes, ripping off the hair on his testicles with packing tape. A lead characters fall off a chair he's standing on and can't move, later falls out of a window. 

Sex

One lead character draws pencil sketches of his female co-workers in full-frontal nudity; when his supervisor sees one, he says the woman's pubic hair doesn't look like that in real life. One of the lead characters takes off his clothes and runs naked in a stadium where the pope is visiting; brief male nudity (buttocks). Frequent talk of sex; one lead character is having an affair with a married woman. References to, talk of masturbation. 

Language

Frequent profanity. "Motherf----r" used a few times. "F--k" regularly used. "S--t," "damn," "sucks," "crap," "ass," "balls," "a--hole." Slang terms for female genitalia. "Retarded." Middle-finger gesture. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Beer and whiskey drinking in a bar. Beer drinking in a "man cave." Wine and champagne drinking in a restaurant. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Four Against the Bank (known as Vier gegen die Bank in German) is a 2016 German action-comedy in which four men who lost their savings to an underhanded banker get even by trying to rob the bank. The movie's in German with English subtitles. Viewers familiar with movies directed by Guy Ritchie and Quentin Tarrantino will see many similarities between this movie and their movies in terms of style and content. One of the lead characters draws nude sketches of his female co-workers; when his supervisor sees one of them, he says that the woman's pubic hair doesn't look like that in real life. This same lead character has a habit of nervously and unintentionally making creepy sexual remarks to women. Violence -- comedic pratfalls in some scenes, actual violence in others -- includes gun shots at a bank robbery, characters punched until they get knocked out, and a stolen van set on fire. One of the lead characters, an MMA fighter, frequently resorts to or threatens violence in order to get what he wants. Violent talk is heard: Characters mention wanting to stick tacks in someone's eyes and to slice the person into tiny pieces, including his testicles. Profanity is heard throughout, including frequent use of "f--k" and variations. There's also some drinking, as well as frequent sex and masturbation references. 

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What's the story?

In FOUR AGAINST THE BANK, Tobias is an incredibly awkward investment banker who is about to be fired. His boss has cleaned out the savings of three of Tobias' customers -- a washed-up actor named Peter, an almost washed-up MMA fighter named Chris, and an entitled 20-something who just lost his job in advertising named Max. These three meet when trying to track down Tobias, and over drinks, they talk of all the violence they want to unleash on Tobias when they get to him. When they discover Tobias in the same bar, drowning his sorrows, they kidnap him and threaten to kill him, but Tobias has another idea. He explains what really happened to their money, and so the four of them plot an elaborate scheme to rob the bank and reclaim their money. But these bumbling wannabe robbers must find a way to not only rob the bank, but also outwit Zollner (Antje Traue), a brilliant investigator of bank robberies who seems to be two steps ahead of them and on the verge of tracking them down and sending them to jail. 

Is it any good?

This German film finds a way to be entertaining on its own terms, despite having a style and content similar to so many other action-crime-comedy movies. So while Four Against the Bank has much that's reminiscent of Guy Ritchie movies, Quentin Tarrantino movies, and the Oceans franchise, it seems to be enough to stand out even using such a well-worn formula. Much of the humor is derived from the fact that these four character archetypes (washed-up actor, socially inept banker, meathead fighter, and entitled rich kid) don't seem capable of even getting through the average day, let alone being able to reclaim their stolen savings from the very bank that ripped them off. Somehow, it works, despite it being overdone. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about action comedies. How is Four Against the Bank similar to other movies in which bumbling, down-on-their-luck characters try to pull off a bank heist, or some other crime that results in them stealing a lot of money? 

  • How was sex and violence used for the sake of comedy? Was it necessary to the story, or did it seem gratuitous? Why? 

  • What's the appeal of crime comedies? Why do they remain popular?

Movie details

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