The Bank Job
Now that's not entirely a bad thing, I just think that we still need some time apart from that genre for a bit longer. However I wasn't prepared for such a strong thriller that had much more character to it.
What had been great from the outset was seeing a cast of British talent, and goo talent at that, and everything we'd seen to date of the recreated seventies was free from kitsch and cheese.
There was also another big plus for the pre-film buzz, the truth in the story.
So when an old flame appears with a possible big win deal he's in. She was caught in customs with some pretty serious drugs in her bags, and she calls on her Whitehall lover for help.
His deal is a clean slate in exchange for some of her organising some of her less than upstanding friends into robbing a bank filled with secretive safe deposit boxes and handing over the contents of a box 118.
This box contains photos of a certain rather well known member of the Royal family in compromising positions with another man and woman. They're being used as blackmail, and their safe and unknown return is a necessity.
What a great sounding plot, and one that is based on fact. Indeed there was such a robbery, and immediately afterwards the papers were filled with the details, and yet the next day there was nothing and it was never mentioned again - the supposed D Notice that was issued by the government to gag the press.
Those involved in the robbery apparently got away with a haul bigger than that of the Great Train Robbery.
There are other facts in the film that when connected together make for a compelling case, but until I've read more on it myself I'm not willing to start spouting off what is and isn't true.
It strikes you from quite early on that this isn't going to be the usual light hearted crime caper. Any joking around and humour is injected in the reality of the situation and there's a lot more conspiracy and thriller to the film.
One thing that did annoy me up front was the power of the soundtrack to reflect an underlying tension and coming dread. From almost the opening scene the atmospheric music is pretty strong and suggests brooding and coming trouble.
Now that's usually fine but I really did miss the build up of it and we seemed to be straight into it. The use of that atmospheric track is a little heavy handed to begin with and it could have been lessened and even removed in a number of places.
However it does do its job, even if it is like a slap in the face, to say that this is indeed more thriller, and that things aren't going to be as easy going as you might think.
Jason Statham is joined by a strong cast of British actors, and while Saffron Burrows, David Suchet and Peter Bowles provide the big hitters there are some great names who are probably lesser known such as Richard Lintern, Daniel Mays, and other television actors.
What is good is that although the Statham trademark "geezer" is there, he's incredibly toned down, and he's also very real. Although the big emotional moment is lacking some it is there, and he does do a convincing job of someone who isn't always in control, a real person.
I do wish that we saw a lot more of him in serious roles, as this suits him perfectly well. Poirot is superb as always, and fantastically menacing.
The wife, played by Keeley Hawes, also gives a strong performance and gives a glimmer of what she could deliver in a bigger role, but it's Statham, Burrows, Suchet and Lintern who plays the slimy government agent who really pack the power of the film.
The great thing is though it's not just the actors, the characters they play are interesting and flawed, and they draw you to the story, and I think that is the big strength of the film, is that the actors, characters and script are all strong and give a solid across the board film.
The story plays out well, carrying multiple plot lines together to an exciting and dramatic conclusion that builds the audience up with it. It doesn't have the kind of hit as The Usual Suspects, not like a lot of Hollywood films with multiple threaded plot lines, but it's still very strong and satisfying, and I felt myself tensing up and willing the characters forward, and that's a big thing for a film to achieve. With The Bank Job the film felt much more real and it felt that the characters were living more by the seat of their pants.
These plot lines seem to be quite separate from the beginning, and initially it was a little confusing but you soon see connections appearing and they're written together well, and it's another great sign of a strong script.
What's surprising is that the writers are Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais, the writers who have worked on television shows such as Auf Wiedersehen Pet and Flushed Away. Seems strange when you watch this dramatic thriller with the rich characters.
That was, for me, the biggest surprise about the film, the writing and the plot. Everything else complimented that strong backbone and provides the strong dramatic heist film that is far from the Guy Ritchie British gangster film, and that's such a good thing.
There's still a touch of comedy and light heartedness, but that is most definitely gone when the film reaches the point after the robbery. From here we see that the tension picks up and the film becomes tougher and stronger, any thought of the light hearted caper is now gone. The stakes are really raised with the torture scene which is really well filmed and doesn't show too much.
The film is set in the seventies, and once again that's another worrying flag up front, like the crime caper possibility, I'm immediately thinking just how over the top it could be, yet the film-makers hit it right on the button and we get the look and feel of the seventies without it ever being over the top and kitsch.
Throughout the film you do get the feeling that there's been a lot of work done to recreate events, backdrops, locations and even the costumes in a realistic and believable way, and it compliments the rest of the film allowing us to be drawn into the film easily.
Ultimately this is a surprising film, I don't think that the marketing did it justice as it seems like it's going to be like so many other middle of the road British crime films and then pulls some things out of the hat - writing, actors, characters, story, realism, and an underlying thought that what you're seeing could well be the truth.
The most effective part of the film is that i left wanting to find out more about the true story.
I'd recommend catching The Bank Job, it's definitely a British film to be proud of with some strong performances and superb writing.