The Bank Job (2008)
A Statham period piece! Oh noes! Can he hack it? Will he seem out of place? Good news is that he fits really well into the 70s in the comfortable pattern of a hustler and was part of a pretty decent ensemble cast. I started off pretty lukewarm for the first half of the movie and, while I enjoyed the heist setup, I wasn't really connecting with it much. I decided to stop and start over at the beginning again and that helped a little more, but have to say that the first half is still pretty flat for me and I enjoyed the ending police/government thriller stuff much more. All in all a very well-crafted movie and there was obviously a lot of work put in to recreate the environment as much as possible. I didn't for a moment question the period recreation or the plausibility and knowing it was at least loosely based on a true life story definitely helped quite a bit. They managed to very convincingly portray a group of guys getting in way over their head and the mayhem when things go off the rails later on made for some great tension and drama.
Statham was back on form as a cool and collected underworld type here, with plenty of "are you fucking kidding me" type moments that always bring a smile to my face. The family man angle was a nice touch and helped to give a little more depth to his character. Overall, this is role has more in common with his early Ritchie movie characters than his badass ones. While I do really like him in his over-the-top roles, he was really good here, had great charisma, and really fit the part well.
Otherwise I must say that I'm beginning to notice a bit of a pattern with Mr Statham: He's not really growing as an actor much, if at all. That in no way detracts from my enjoyment of watching him, but it's a really interesting contrast to Arnold. I still maintain that Arnold came out of the gate as a reasonably strong actor (certainly much better than most critics would give credit for) as demonstrated with his work in Stay Hungry and Conan, but he had several major expansions of his acting range and screen presence throughout his career. He established his own genre with Commando and Predator, turned that on its side with Twins and Kindergarten Cop, and even went full Bond in True Lies. There are many moments in there were he seemed like a fundamentally different actor and it was very fun to watch his growth through his career. Statham on the other hand hit the scene at a high level of ability in the first two Ritchie movies and turned the amp to 11 with The Transporter, but otherwise I can't say that I see much progression or growth from him. Sure, he had a nice spittle-flying emotional outburst in London, but on the whole he's the same guy he was in Lock, Stock. While Arnold may have started out as a 5 or 6 out of 10 and progressed to a 7 or 8 in his best roles, Statham started out as a 6 or 7 and is pretty much still there.
Badassery Quotient - 3
Given that Statham's crew are supposed to be newbs who get in over their head, can't really expect a lot of that and there's no gunplay, fisticuffs, or chase sequences to be had. Still, Statham's got that charisma thing going again and he's fun being back in the role as the only level-headed guy in the midst of a bunch of reactionary types as friends.
Rewatchability - Sure
Probably one of the more well rounded Statham movies that I've seen thus far and certainly the most mainstream after The Italian Job. I'd be happy to sit down and watch it with someone else, but don't think this will be high in the rotation of personal favorites. Very fun on first watch, but would lose something knowing how it plays out. I'd happily recommend it to any fans of Statham, 70s London, or caper movies. Good stuff.
Up next - Death Race. Ooooooh.... Aaaahhhhh.... I intentionally avoided this when it hit the theaters out of respect for the original, which is a personal favorite. Very much one of those movies that I don't see the point in remaking, but I'm glad to have an excuse to give it a try. It can't very well be worse than the damn Dungeon Siege movie, now can it? (Fingers nervously crossed)