True Action: The Bank Job (2008)
In this edition of True Action we take a look at the 2008 movie The Bank Job starring Jason Statham. The movie was based on the September 11, 1971 robbery of the Lloyds Bank in London. Being that this was the Baker Street branch of Lloyds Bank, the robbery became known as the Baker Street Robbery. The Baker Street Robbery was the biggest heist in England since The Great Train Robbery of 1963.
- The Movie: In The Bank Job, Saffron Burrows plays former fashion model Martine Love. Martine is caught at the airport transporting illegal narcotics. Fortunately for Martine, she is dating an MI5 agent who is able to cut her a deal. MI5 wants to retrieve some compromising photographs of Princess Margaret engaged in sexual activity with a known gangster. The MI5 has learned that a radical by the name of Michael X has locked these photographs in a safe deposit box at the Baker Street branch of Lloyds Bank. So the MI5 proposes that Martine reach out to some of her friends from the “old neigborhood”. Friends that know people in low places. Friends that can plan on robbing the bank where the photographs are safely stored and in turn Martine will deliver the photographs to the MI5 and the British Royal Family would be safe from any blackmail attempts and scandal… Martine reaches out to her old friend Terry Leather (Jason Statham). Terry assembles the group he’ll need to carry out the heist. The plan is to lease an empty store front two door down from the bank. Terry, Martine and the crew will then tunnel underneath the store they are renting and under the Chicken Inn, a fast food chicken joint, that resides between the empty store front and the bank. They have another guy on a rooftop across the street serving as a lookout. Once the heist is complete the movie isn’t over. Police corruption, more deals with MI5 and the demise of the militant radical Michael X are covered.
- The True Story: So how does the movie differ from the actual events that took place back in 1971? First and foremost, the names of the characters were changed. There is actually a disclaimer in the credits of The Bank Job that says “The names of many people identified in this film have been changed to protect the guilty.” The Terry Leather character that Jason Statham portrayed was based on Thomas Gray Stevens, one of the four men who were eventually convicted of the robbery. The Martine Love character seems to be a total movie embellishment so there could be some romance worked into the movie and not based on an actual person. The tunneling aspect and the lookout on the roof were accurate depictions. Even some of the dialogue in the film between the diggers and the lookout is authentic as their walkie talkie conversations were recorded by a HAM radio operator who turned over the tapes to the police. While Michael X was an actual person (he would be convicted of murder in his native Trinidad and Tobago and executed by hanging in 1975), his connection to the robbery is something of an urban legend that has grown over the years. But it is an urban legend that an adviser on The Bank Job, George McIndoe says is a 100% accurate and that he had inside knowledge about the robbery (which is how he got to be involved with the movie and receive and Executive Producer credit). But there are some who believe Michael X never had compromising photos of Princess Margaret, let alone that he had them stored in the Baker Street branch of Lloyds Bank. Who is right? Who is wrong? The world may never know.
If you want to learn more about the Baker Street Robbery, click here for a documentary on the infamous robbery.