A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this edgy heist thriller has several scenes that show or insinuate "kinky" sex (bondage, domination) being paid for by British government officials. There's also partial nudity (breasts) and a thematic focus on scandals involving pornography and prostitution. Violence includes the prolonged torture/murder of a sympathetic crook; you can also expect plenty of gun use and fighting. Drugs (both dealing and smuggling) are discussed frequently, and scenes show marijuana use, cigarette smoking, and drinking. Language includes lots of "f--k"s, plus other profanity and British slang ("wanker," etc.).
What's the story?
You've always been looking for the big score, Martine Love (Saffron Burrows) tells Terry Leathers (Jason Statham), "the one that makes sense of everything." And so, in THE BANK JOB, Terry -- like many movie crooks before him -- is lured into a scheme (inspired by a real-life 1971 heist) to rob a London bank. With a crew comprised of both friends and specialists, he tunnels from a nearby shop into the bank's time-locked vault, where they find a trove of safety deposit boxes. It's only after finishing the job that Terry learns the heist was actually instigated by a spy tasked with retrieving one box's contents: pornographic photos of British politicians and aristocrats (including a royal princess). Now he has to outmaneuver government agents, gangsters, and both corrupt and good cops.
Is it any good?
Statham is surely charismatic, but the film is defined by its thinly drawn characters (the stereotypical militant, the hypocritical politicos) and by-the-numbers plot. Though Terry probably believes himself when he tells his wife that "All I want is to get out of the game," he's also plainly thrilled by challenge, the chance to beat the system one more time. But he's surprised by the ferocity of his adversaries, who have much more at stake than he does. These include not only the politicians caught with their pants down, but also a gangster who keeps cops on his payroll and a militant who's used the princess photos to blackmail his way out of a prison sentence. As Roger Donaldson's movie keeps track of all these plot strands at once, it becomes more procedural than compelling.
Meanwhile, per heist movie formula, Terry's bad behavior is offset by the even worse behavior of his opponents. Theft, deception, and adultery don't look so terrible compared to murder and torture, especially since the robbers seem like they're having fun, trusting and kidding one another in ways that the generally humorless assortment of gangsters, pimps, revolutionaries, and authorities can't manage.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how heist movies tend to portray their "heroes." Even though they're planning robberies, characters like Terry and the guys in the Ocean's movies are sympathetic -- is that realistic? What defines a "good guy" and a "bad guy"? How does this movie make Terry and his outlaw gang seem less offensive than the bad cops and government authorities? Viewers who want to know more about the unsolved real-life 1971 robbery that inspired the movie can click here.
- In theaters: March 6, 2008
- On DVD or streaming: July 15, 2008
- Cast: Jason Statham, Saffron Burrows, Stephen Campbell Moore
- Director: Roger Donaldson
- Studio: Lionsgate
- Genre: Drama
- Run time: 115 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: sexual content, nudity, violence and language.
- Last updated: September 21, 2019
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