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Film / The Bank Job

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A 2008 British heist thriller directed by Roger Donaldson and Very Loosely Based on a True Story, namely the 1971 Baker Street bank robbery. It stars Jason Statham, Saffron Burrows, and Keeley Hawes, along with half the supporting actors in Britain.

Basically, MI5 hire a bunch of criminals to rob a safety deposit vault that contains a bunch of compromising pictures of a senior royal (Princess Margaret in the movie, but possibly not her in real life. You can't libel the dead). Things don't exactly adhere to plan — there's a porn baron and corrupt coppers involved...

Definitely not one for the kiddies.


This film contains examples of:

  • And This Is for...: "This one's for Dave!" Right before kicking the man in the kidneys.
  • Angry Black Man: Michael X, though he's actually a sociopath who uses black activism as a cover for his criminal activities.
  • Badass Crew: Subverted. At first it appears that Terry is assembling one of these, as is typical in heist films, but it turns out that some of them aren't very good at their jobs at all.
  • Black-and-Grey Morality: Almost every character in this movie is morally ambiguous at best and pure evil at worst - Given and the HAM radio operator are really the only two exceptions.
  • Black Mail: All over the place. Leather uses it to get his friends out of trouble after they get in way over their heads, Tim and Martine were planning it from the beginning, and Vogel gets in on the act after Sophie starts blackmailing him.
    • The movie suggests the whole caper to steal Michael X's damaging photos of a member of the Royal family is to end the blackmailing threats he'd made to get the authorities to back off his gangster activities.
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  • Biggus Dickus: Dave. Played for laughs at first, but eventually it leads to his demise when Vogel recognizes him as one of his former porn actors.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The major villains - Vogel, Michael X, and the corrupt cops - are arrested and punished for their various crimes. Terry gets to pay off his debts, reconcile his desires for Martine, and keep his family. But half of Terry's crew is killed off, along with the female MI 5 operative who tried to infiltrate Michael X's group.
  • Boxed Crook: Martine, who agrees to set up the bank heist as a way to get out of a drug charge.
  • Buried Alive: Gale's autopsy found dirt in her lungs, indicating that despite her injuries, she was still alive when she was placed in her grave.
  • The Caper: With a dash of political thriller thrown in.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: Complete with a bent copper eating beer nuts as he looks on.
  • Come Alone: A variation. Whenever Terry has to rendezvous with someone, he's careful to set it up in such a way that he has the advantage.
    • When he has to make a trade-off with the government, he insists on having a Royal family member present, knowing that having one directly involved in the deal would scare officials into not doing anything that would risk exposure.
  • Contrived Coincidence: MI 5 is stuck post-robbery with the realization that the whole caper could go public and could get very messy for the people they were trying to protect. As luck would have it, Terry's crew also robbed the blackmail materials of a local madam, who convinces one of her victims — a Member of Parliament — to request a security hold on the press, giving MI 5 the political cover to hush it all up.
  • The Convenient Store Next Door: Le Sac, closed for a basement "extension".
  • Hero Antagonist: The honest cops, particularly Given.
  • Hostage for MacGuffin: When at first Vogel doesn't succeed with Dave, he tries it again with Eddie.
  • Hypocrite: Several of the characters, but Vogel deserves special mention:
    Vogel: "I think drugs are responsible for the moral decay of this country."
    • Michael X claims early on that he's a political activist struggling against racial oppression. He's later seen bullying a businessman with death threats, and acts very much the gangster including the moment he kills people he thinks are spying on him. Not to mention that one of his henchmen takes up with a white woman, the very people they supposedly despise.
  • The Infiltration: Gale Benson. It doesn't end well.
  • The Load: Almost everyone in the crew screws up at least once during the heist, but Eddie takes the cake.
  • MacGuffin: Several different ones — the two sets of embarrassing photos, and Vogel's ledger book.
  • Manly Tears: Tim gets choked up when he sees that Gale has been buried alive, as he was close to her.
  • One Last Job: Terry promises his wife that this will be the score that will set them up for life, and he'll never commit another crime again.
  • Needle in a Stack of Needles: One of the reasons Terry's crew pulls off the heist while the cops are actively searching for them is because the ham operator is picking up chatter in a 10-mile radius... and there were over 250 banks in that area the police had to check. The cops stopping at the Baker Street bank didn't have time to double-check the vault itself...
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: The movie goes out of the way to avoid naming specific Real Life figures especially among the Royals, who wouldn't be amused to be depicted in this movie given the theories it promotes about the reasons behind the bank robbery (and subsequent government hush-up). The only named Royal relative who makes a direct appearance in the movie is Lord Mountbatten, cousin to the Queen, most likely because his being dead since 1979 avoids any libel issues for the film-makers. Mountbatten is still shown in a bemused and benign light. In a blink-and-you'll-miss-them moment during Michael X's dinner party, there are two individuals who are clearly John Lennon and Yoko Ono.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: Terry kicking the living crap out of sixty-year-old, kidney-stone-ridden Vogel. "This one's for Dave!"
  • Present-Day Past: A bit of Stock Footage for Baker Street station has a sign for the Hammersmith and City line, which didn't exist in 1971 — being a part of the Metropolitan Line.
    • A tube train is also of the wrong stock for the Northern Line in that period.
  • Saying Too Much
    (Speaking on walkie-talkie) "No names, Eddie." "Sorry, Dave."
  • The '70s: With a heavy dose of lingering The '60s mixed in (the movie takes place in 1971).
  • Television Geography: Largely averted. The Lloyds Bank branch is placed in its correct location and is still there today.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Oh, Dave.
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story: Make that very, very loosely. It's true that there was a robbery at the Baker Street branch of Lloyds in 1971, most of the robbers' walkie-talkie chatter was recorded by a ham radio operator who convinced Scotland Yard to check every nearby bank as the robbery was happening, there was a security hold placed on the story silencing the media, and several of the characters were real people (or at least clear fictionalizations of real people). But a lot of the plot elements (and a few major characters) are just conjecture/invention on the part of the filmmakers.


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