The big news, actually the only big news, on DVD this week is the Two-Disc Special Edition of The Bank Job, a juicy, fact-based caper movie that drew a decent cult following when it was released in February. For you slackers, here’s a chance to catch up. In 1971, a robbery took place at Lloyds Bank in London that involved a royal sex scandal. The thieves, played here by Brit athlete and model turned credible actor Jason Statham, seductive Saffron Burrows and the cream of Brit character actors, are hustled into robbing the place by higher-ups who are using them just to get their hands on incriminating photos in a deposit box. Director Roger Donaldson keeps the suspense crackling. In my original review, I wrote that after seeing this movie you’ll want to know more about the bank job that literally did shake the empire. Thanks to DVD my wish has come true. On both the standard DVD and Blu-ray editions, you get a fifteen-minute (it’s not enough) featurette that focuses on the real-life crime, using historical footage and comments from historians and the original cops on the case. Yes, the movie exaggerates, but it’s too much fun to bitch about. And watching it again got me thinking of my favorite bank robbery movies. Here’s my Top 5. Let me know if you disagree or if I’ve left anything out, and whether you think The Bank Job belongs in their classy, larcenous company.
1. Heat 1995
Directed by Michael Mann, this near classic showcases a pip of a bank job and an ensuing shootout that serves as a model of the form.
2. Inside Man 2006
Directed by Spike Lee, this tense, twisted spellbinder concerns a bank heist planned by a masked robber (Clive Owen) with such precision that only Denzel Washington, as a detective, could mess with its perfection.
3. Dog Day Afternoon 1975
Directed by Sidney Lumet, this true-crime story puts Al Pacino and his crew inside a Brooklyn bank where he threatens to kill hostages if he doesn’t get the money for his boyfriend’s sex-change operation. Lumet creates an atmosphere of hothouse tension that has been imitated but never equaled.
4. Point Break 1991
Directed by Kathryn Bigelow, this may be the only bank heist flick that combines robbery with surfing. Keanu Reeves stars as the F.B.I. agent who goes undercover to catch the boarders who rob banks wearing the masks of former US presidents. Exciting? Dude, believe it.
5. Charley Varrick 1973
Directed by Don Siegel, this gem is the best bank job movie you probably never heard of. Walter Matthau is sensational as Charley, a crop duster who robs banks on the side. The opening scene, cutting from the robbery taking place inside a New Mexico bank to the getaway car outside, will have your palms sweating.