Saturday, August 30, 2008

The Bank Job -- Prevalence of corruption

Some movies have tantalizing trailers only to deeply disappoint with the actual full-length feature. The Bank Job is one of those movies. The trailer entices, but the DVD is a let-down. It starts off very slowly, and takes a long turn through some unnecessarily graphic nudity and kinky sex, to get to the actual robbery, where the viewer's interest lies.

Set in London in the 70s, The Bank Job has only two main "stars": Jason Statham (has he been in any good movies?), the journeyman action-crime actor (as east-Londoner Terry Leather) and Saffron Burrows (as Martine Love). The rest of the cast is no-name and very workmanlike; indeed that is a bad sign for the film. Martine approaches Terry with a job offer -- rob a bank while its vault sensors are out of commission -- it sounds too good to be true. And it is too good to be true, but Terry agrees.

Terry and his mob are bumbling, but "good-hearted" villains. They contrast with the "real" criminals, the evil men who run the porno industry, indulge in blackmail and commit murder.

As the heist unfolds, it is clear that Terry and his team are being set up by MI-5 for reasons of national security. And director Roger Donaldson wants us to root for Terry, the lovable crooks, who show "honor among thieves." But these are still criminals who are endangering themselves and their families while breaking the law and stealing from society. Bank Job can be contrasted with the 2007 Flawless. Both are heist films. Both are set in London in earlier eras. Both have two main stars. But that is where the comparisons end. Flawless has better stars, with Michael Caine and Demi Moore. Even with Moore's stiff acting, Flawless is the better acted and better developed movie. Indeed, Flawless develops intrigue and maintains interest without resorting to nudity, sex or violence. Neither film is great, but The Bank Job should remain out of sight in a bank deposit box while Flawless deserves a viewing opportunity.

Despite the quality of the film, The Bank Job does illustrate one key biblical issue: that of depravity. Throughout the film every main character except two (Detective Sgt Roy Niven and his side-kick) show evidence of corruption. This is corruption of one kind or another and to one degree or another. Even the British bobbies are on the take, shaking down the porn king and his cohort for kick-backs. Detective Niven stands as a foil, and an instrument of plot movement, to contrast this prevalent wickedness. But intended or not, this is exactly what the Bible says about humanity. Jeremiah said it this way, "The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?" (Jer. 17:9). Paul, on the other hand, bluntly said, "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Rom 3:23). Every person is corrupt and depraved, being touched by sin and impacted to one degree or another. While The Bank Job offers no solution to this universal corruption, the Bible offers Jesus as our way out.

Copyright © 2008, Martin Baggs

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