1 Star - Disturbing

The actual event on which Roger Donaldson's film "The Bank Job" is based is itself debasing.  From the sexual immorality of a member of England's royal family which created the need for the heist, to the police and government corruption which was uncovered, to the subsequently covered-up of the entire event by the government, this event provides a disturbing look at the underside of humanity.  Since it is a true story about sex and violence, its nudity and bloodshed is a necessary part of the film, but it easily deserves its "R" rating.

Although the veracity of the film is being questioned and the writers admit to changing the names and fictionalized some aspects of the event, reports by the U.K. Telegraph [1] explain that its writers had inside information.  George McIndoe claims to have met the main character given the name of Terry Leather (Jason Stratham). For over 30 years McIndoe has tried to get someone to make this unsolved robbery into a film.  Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais were the writers who finally agreed to do so.

The tale begins in the sparkling waters of a white-sand beach where an unidentified woman soon finds herself in a sexual threesome.  Unknown to her, Michael X (Peter De Jersey) is photographing their impropriety.  She is identified in the film as Princess Margaret (Louise Chambers), though the actual identity is sealed by the British courts until 2054.  Michael X places the photographs in the vault of Lloyd's Bank on Baker Street and uses it as protection from prosecution for his criminal life.  An intelligence agent named Tim Everett (Richard Lintern) is given the assignment to get the photographs without anyone knowing the government is involved.

To distance him and the government from the robbery, Everett forces Martine Love (Saffron Burrows) to gather a gang of unlikely and unsuspecting thieves.  What he and Martine do not realize is that the leader she chooses, Terry Leather, is far more capable than they expect.  They also do not realize that there are other incriminating photographs and records kept in the same vault with the Princess' pictures.

We won't spoil the intrigue of what happens next, but it is a possible explanation of the facts which are known:  The valuables were never collected in what is one of the largest robberies in British history; The government did stop the media from reporting the story after three days; and Michael X was hung for murder in Trinidad in 1975.  It is a mystery that has long begged for explanation.

A story of greed, sex, corruption and violence is even more disturbing when it is true.  This is a well-told tale of a debasing event you may not want to see.



  1. Do you believe the pictures Michael X had are of a royal family member?  Why or why not?  What do you believe the government of England would seal for 83 years if not that?
  2. When Terry tells his wife Wendy (Keeley Hawes) that he is going to be working long hours on something he doesn't want her to ask about, she accepts his explanation.  After she discovers he robbed the bank she seems to be only concerned about whether he was sexually faithful.  What would you do if your spouse did this?  Would you be tempted by the wealth?
  3. The decision by the government to let this gang keep the contents of the boxes was matched by the decision of the owners of the boxes to not explain what was in them.  Do you agree with either decision?



UK Telegraph: What actually happened in the real bank job?

On the night of Saturday, September 11, a gang of thieves tunnelled for 40ft from beneath a nearby handbag store into the vault of Lloyds Bank on Baker Street, central London, cutting through the reinforced concrete floor with a thermic lance.

The robbers communicated with a look-out via walkie-talkie, the signal being picked up by an amateur radio enthusiast, Robert Rowlands, who was trying to reach friends in Australia.

After initially believing it to be hoax, the police eventually tuned in, but could not identify which bank was being robbed. A check of 700 banks failed.

The gang made their escape on Sunday lunchtime, according to the Mirror, but bank security chiefs insisted that all the alarm systems had been working.

The thieves gained entry through a 15in hole, prompting speculation that a woman or child had entered the vault. A woman's voice was picked up on the radio transmissions.

Scrawled inside the safe were the words: "Let Sherlock Holmes try to solve this." Four men were jailed in 1973 and Michael X (see main story) was hanged for murder in Trinidad in 1975.

Posted on June 1, 2011 and filed under 1 STAR, DISTURBING.