Movie: I've watched a number of bank heist movies over the years and found them to be formulaic more often than not. That didn't make them any less enjoyable, just predictable. In The Bank, Director Robert Connelly turns things around and has the bank (via it's employees) as the one doing the robbing in what amounts to a very interesting Australian movie.
The movie centers primarily on two characters: Jim Doyle (David Wenham) who's a genius mathematician that has been working on a formula that predicts future events using fractal theory, and a greedy capitalist banker, Simon O'Reilly (Anthony LaPaglia) who sees the possibilities in Jim's potential. The movie follows the two around as they team up to reap billions of dollars at the expense of the public, with a number of twists and turns as they face opposition from within and outside of the bank. During Jim's initial test of the formula, he does a good enough job to get the company a large sum of money-even with a limited version to work with. Simon pushes Jim to his limits in order to grasp the brass ring when the board of directors tells him that he (Simon) had better show results soon or he'll be replaced. With deadlines looming, Jim falls in with a clerk, Michelle (Sibylla Budd), who is either working with Simon or completely opposed to his methods-it's part of the plot.
The movie quickly builds some suspense as to who'll be the fall guy when it all goes down, who'll benefit from the bank making large sums of money, and who'll get in the way-including a subplot where some of the banks earlier victims fight them in court, threatening to expose the banks illegal practices. The acting was solid on all levels which really helped the movies' premise and contributed to the overall feel of the show. The leads were the best but even the supporting cast were good.
The movie borrowed a lot from the Hollywood feature, Wall Street, and made a reasonable attempt to explain fractal theory-how you can see patterns inside of almost everything, depending on what scale you use, which allow the more nuts & bolts story to proceed. That the victims lose it all and get perhaps a bit of redemption with the later development was interesting too.
So, with decent production values, solid acting and a good screenplay, how did it all come together? Actually, well enough for me to give this movie a rating of Recommended. The rough edges were minimal and even with the missing deleted scenes (that would've explained a few things) and missing short film spoken of on the commentary track, the movie itself had some real replay value-a rarity for a suspense flick these days. No, there aren't a lot of car chases, explosions, and gun battles, but the battle of wits that takes place is better than 99% of those for thinking viewers.
Picture: The picture was presented in 1.85:1 ratio anamorphic widescreen. It looked very good for a low budget independent movie from Australia with accurate fleshtones, few artifacts and only minor issues concerning the grain.
Sound: The sound was presented in Dolby Digital stereo English and was also clear with solid vocals and a decent score.
Extras: There was a very well done director's commentary where Director Connolly described not only the details that were missing from the story, but also a number of visual techniques and other aspects of the production. There was a short storyboard sequence where the director spoke for a few minutes about the beginning of the movie by way of the storyboards although I'd have liked to see him continue further into the movie. There was the trailer for the movie and a cast & crew biography section as well. In a related note, in the commentary, reference was made to some deleted scenes that were not included on the dvd (he spoke as though they were) as well as a short film by Connelly-a shame.
Final Thoughts: From the moment LaPaglia stated that "I'm like God with a better suit", I knew this one had some real sly humor. Connelly keeps it all believable and interesting, no easy feat considering the general publics distaste for math theory. There were a number of visual references that seemed prophetic throughout the movie and I think it was very well made, especially for a first movie.