July 17, 2008

Gratuitous Llama Netflix Movie Review


Last evening the Missus and I sat down to watch The Bank Job.

For those of you who don't know, the story - supposedly based on a real incident - is set in the early 70's. A black radical and drug-running London slum lord self-named Michael X (after Malcolm X, which puts me in mind of the recent story about the young lady who raised her hand in history class and innocently asked who Malcolm the Tenth was), manages to get an envelope full of extremely compromising photos of HRH the Dummy Princess Margaret,*** ah, frolicking in the Caribbean. HM Government are not amused, so MI-5 (or MI-6) arrange for a group of Timson-like minor villains *** to burgle the vault of the Lloyds branch where Michael has stashed his pics in a safe-deposit box. The trouble is that also kept in this vault (and also taken by the crew) are the records of a Dinsdale Piranha-like*** porn king, who specializes in paying off coppers to look the other way, plus a Madam whose clientele include a number of MP's and other Very Important Persons, many of whom seem to prefer their entertainment to be, em, creative. Suspense and mayhem ensue as our plucky thieves - who are just ordinary blokes - realize what they've stumbled into.

All clear?

Oh, there's also a weakish sub-plot about a lady MI-5 agent who gets herself into Michael X's posse, the better to try and spy on him from the inside. I think this was added simply because it was her murder at Michael's hands that eventually got him run up at the yardarm.

When I first saw the previews for this film, I said of Jason Statham, who plays Terry Leather - the main bank thief and hero of the film - "You know, that guy looks like Handsome Rob."

My friend dope-slapped me and replied, "Idiot, that is Handsome Rob."

I mention this because given that, I thought this film was going to have considerably more car chases and witty banter than it did. So much for preconceived notions: In fact, what action there is is extremely low-tech and fairly low-key. Also, the film is too dark and grubby for much joking. Instead, its strength lies in its suspense and in the rayther complicated way in which all the pieces of the puzzle, i.e., the various forces with an interest in the business, fall into place.

Actually, what I liked best about the film was the cast. Stratham's got a good look about him - sort of a younger, leaner, Cockney Bruce Willis. Meanwhile, Richard Lintern, a fellah I'd never heard of who plays the MI-5 (or possibly MI-6) agent running the job, looks surprisingly like Sean Connery in his yout, only more handsome. And imagine my surprise to see Peter Bowles, of all people, as the smarmy, sinister head of MI-5 (or possibly MI-6)! I haven't clapped eyes on him since his Rumpole/Irish RM/To The Manor Born days ( which I'm sure our younger readers won't remember) and still think of him as affable and vaguely incompetent. Nifty bit of casting against type here. Oh, and the Dinsdale Piranha fellah is played wonderfully by David Souchet - who I still think of as Poirot, but who I've seen play eeeevil before when he went up against Kurt Russell (and, of course, lost).

Then, of course, there is the very lovely and talented Saffron Burrows who plays Martine Love, the go-between, er, between MI-5 (or MI-6) and Terry:



Mom recently asked why we Llamas don't drool over some of the older actresses out there. (I believe she cited Julianne Moore as an example). Well, Saffron's not all that especially old (mid-30's), but she looks older than she is - and I mean that as a compliment. (I've noticed that as I get older myself, I am more attracted to the experienced and sophisticated instead of the fresh-faced and naive. In this, I'm reminded of that passage from The Pirates of Penzance:

Frederick: A lad of twenty-one usually looks for a wife of seventeen.

Ruth: A wife of seventeen? You will find me a wife of a thousand!

Frederick: No, but I shall find you a wife of forty-seven and that is quite enough.

But I digress.)

I had a vague idea I had seen Miss Burrows before, but it wasn't until this morning that I remembered the last time was when she and Samuel L. Jackson were battling sooper-intelligent sharks in a sunken sea-laboratory, which battle of course required that she strip down to her undies. So experienced? Yes. Sophisticated? Gawd!

Robbo's Recommendation: All in all, not bad, but I don't think I'd bother with it again. Say three Yips! out of five.

***Lots of quotes to spot.

Posted by Robert at July 17, 2008 07:51 AM | TrackBack

Yes--Saffron's definitely drool-worthy. That stupid super shark movie came on cable the other day and I just HAD to watch until I caught that scene where she peels herself out of the wetsuit. Unfortunately that's about 3/4 way through an otherwise abysmal 2-hour plus movie. It seemed worth it at the time though.

Posted by: CJT at July 17, 2008 11:03 PM