Bank robberies – especially those perpetrated using high levels of ingenuity, cunning and skill – may be questionable, but they don’t half make a good read, or in this case, a great subject for a film. Roger Donaldson’s reenactment of a little-known London safe-deposit robbery in 1971 plays like an elongated, light-hearted episode of ‘The Sweeney’. It’s not surprising it has a televisual feel, mind, given that the screenplay is by ‘Porridge’ and ‘Likely Lads’ writers Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais.
Resident hardnut Jason Statham usually plays violent characters who excel at notching up high body counts. Here, he’s in much more subdued mode as a dodgy but peaceful car dealer who is approached by old flame Saffron Burrows to join a team on an audacious bank heist involving tunnels, lookouts, walkie-talkies and millions of pounds worth of private safedeposit contents.
According to the film, one of the bank’s deposit boxes contained photographs of a royal princess caught in flagrante delicto by a member of the Black Panther Movement. Could the robbery have been set up by members of the British establishment keen to avert a major embarrassment?
David Suchet’s smarmy porn king notwithstanding, no prizes will be handed out for acting. And there are far too many characters and subplots to get a decent handle on. But the robbery is tautly mounted, it all looks authentically old fashioned, and there are a few nuggets of amusing dialogue amid the occasional violence, sexual debauchery, political corruption and overall hedonistic atmosphere.