Martine goes to her oldest pal (and unrequited love) Terry Leather (Transporter Jason Statham), who’s now married (to MI-5's Keeley Hawes) and trying to make an honest living with a garage. Tempted by a way out of debt to mobsters, he convinces his crew of amateurs to have a go at the bank, which Martine assures him will have its alarms turned off, while failing to fill him in on the photograph or her own little side deal. Tim now has his bank robbery, safely removed from MI-5 by two degrees. What he doesn’t know, though, is that sleazy porn king Lew Vogel (David Suchet), who has ties to Michael X, also stores his blackmail pictures in the bank, which includes a number of government officials in incredibly compromising positions.
I’ve mentioned before how much a movie’s setting can affect my enjoyment of it, and that applies to time as well as place. I love The Bank Job’s Swinging London setting, and the cars, clothes, haircuts and music that go with it. Prolific writers Clement and Lafrenais certainly know that era well, having lived through it (I believe one of them shared a flat with either Michael Caine or Tom Courtenay) and written some of the very best movies that came out of it, particularly in the heist and spy genres. The duo penned two incredibly fun contemporary time capsules of Swinging London, the caper movie The Jokers with Oliver Reed and Michael Crawford, and the spy farce Otley (one of my very favorite spy movies, in fact!) starring Courtenay. History has since provided the writers with a darker glass to view the era through, though, and The Bank Job reflects that. While it shares the anarchic, anti-establishment spirit of Otley and The Jokers, it’s less gleeful and more jaded... and considerably more violent, in a few scenes. Rather than the James Bond-meets-The Italian Job spy/heist hybrid these writers might have given us in the Sixties, what we get instead is more of a George Smiley-meets-The Killing job. And that’s not at all a bad thing!