Chock full of enough cheaply derisive Brit-nitwit heist genre glee and audacious (or is that bodacious?) Maxim-styled bravura to choke a raging meth-head, Roger Donaldson's ode to seventies British cinema is nothing short of an homage to the slap-dash editing style of...well, of a raging meth-head, or for that matter, any typically testosteronic slick-witted (or is that dim-witted?) manic Brit heist film junky. Same thing in many respects.
Addled with enough twists and turns, and twists again to make one's head spin (meth-furled or not) with thoughts of impossible scenarios and exaltations of what-the-fuck's, and full of enough gaps in logic to make that head spin turn into a full-on explosion, Donaldson's paean to past possibilities (the film is based on an actual event but no one really knows what happened so the director is free to fictionalize his ass off) is indeed the stereotypical roller coaster ride - albeit in a strangely hyper laid back manner (not near the frenzied absurdities and headache inducing flash cuts of many a recent Brit crime flick thankfully) - and being so, is quite, superficially so at least, ridable for an allotted amount of cinema time. Guess what though? Time's up!
The story (so to speak) of a gang of British thieves, each with their own genre-specific stereotypes and requisite foibles, who ineptly, and quite without much else other than pure luck, rob a bank of its safety deposit boxes and then go on their way of backstabbing each other about a billion times over again (seriously, its almost more convoluted than The Big Sleep), Donaldson's film plays out as just another cheap heist film rimmed in slick wet colours and a cocksure attitude that makes it seem all the more ridiculous.
Not to knock the cast, for they do the most admirable of jobs considering the trite cliché of the film's mise-en-scene (and to watch Saffron Burrows ooze about the screen as if some sort of subtly sirenistic snake weaving a spell over all who are (un)lucky enough to set eyes upon her may very well be worth the ten dollars one may shell out for the privilege) but when all is said and done, stylistically anted up or not, based on facts or not, the exact thing you expect to happen happens - and happens again and again and again. Again, time's up. [03/14/08]