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Overall Rating

Awesome: 7.89%
Worth A Look47.37%
Average: 21.05%
Pretty Bad: 15.79%
Total Crap: 7.89%

4 reviews, 14 user ratings

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Bank, The
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by Chris Parry

"What's the exchange rate on hammy acting these days?"
2 stars

When you cast Anthony Lapaglia in a film, you're looking for one of three types of people. Either you're looking for a mouthy tough guy, a stoic good guy, or a guy who might get you a small US release because otherwise you've just spent a few million on an Australian film, and we all know that the big money is in US film, not Australian film, so... well, you get the idea. The Bank's greatest problem is that it takes two of these character options and overplays them to such a degree that the rest never quite catches up. But still, a train wreck with feeling beats a train wreck without any day of the week.

David Wenham is Paul, a maths genius that has finally found the holy grail... almost. Paul has learned how to use fractals to predict the stock market, at least some of the time, and before the champagne can even get to his head, he's been snapped up by Centabank, a corporate giant with no scruples, to start a program that will eventually wipe out markets worldwide, all for Centabank's profit.

There's your story, folks. Now my question to you is simple - how do you make that interesting? Think about it. You have a maths genius - they're generally not the stuff of sex symboldom. Then you've got lots of looking at computer screens - again, not exactly riveting cinema. And then you've got a fairly straightforward plot - will they succeed with their plan or will the maths end up not quite working out?

To mix things up a little, first-time writer/director Robert Connolly looks to one of Australian film's cheapest big names, Anthony Lapaglia, to throw a tiger amongst the pigeons. Lapaglia, as the bank's testicle-heavy head honcho, goes in turn and creates an all-out ape-shit macho Gordon Gecko wannabe that would be more at home in a Dick Dastardly cartoon than opposite the quiet, generally unassuming, but especially talented David Wenham.

Wenham's appeal is that he underplays his characters, giving them a quiet humanity and unspoken danger, while Lapaglia revels in lines such as "I'm God with a better suit." Imagine John Malkovich and Chris Tucker in a buddy cop comedy and you'll have some idea of the lack of chemistry these two have to deal with.

But they're not helped by Connolly's insistence on using a score that, quite often, threatens to drown out even the dialogue being spoken. The music kicks in early and just doesn't quit, which definitely gives the film a certain mood, but not necessarily one it should need to get by. And when Connolly finally decides to introduce a few sub-plots, they're weak sub-plots that provide more distraction than depth to a fairly one-note story.

Which isn't to say that The Bank is utter horsedoody. It's far from that, with Wenham continually reaching back into the depths of cinema hell and dragging the film back out, kicking and screaming. Wenham was last seen in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, where once again he did his future prospects no harm with a measured performance as Faramir, and an appearance in the upcoming Van Helsing could be just the stuff to get him some genuine US cred. Also helping things along is Connolly's visual style, which lends the film a darkness that the dialogue unfortunately doesn't match. Connolly makes what is an essentially low budget film look far more expensive, but at times the strain is obvious as anyone trying to juggle this many balls inevitably drops one or two.

If you really despise banks with a passion (and who doesn't), then The Bank may just give you a burst of happiness as things near the end, but junk science, plot holes and an ending you can see coming from a long way away spoil the potential and leave the film sitting firmly in 'weekly rental' territory.

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originally posted: 03/31/04 08:04:25
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User Comments

10/02/09 J.H lol 4 stars
1/14/05 Gullytrap A Twiliht Zone plot for children disguised as an art movie. Ouch. 1 stars
6/16/04 miss ward poorly done 1 stars
5/12/04 Linda a movie unreal and sometimes ridiculous, but also amusing and rich in ethcal messages 3 stars
5/10/04 john bale Home grown telemovie style Bank expose, visually flat, LaPaglia tries hard. Doesn't excite. 3 stars
2/12/04 DeathSyndrome It's a pretty good movie.... 4 stars
11/12/01 Andrew Robinson I work in a bank and found it hilarious 5 stars
10/31/01 mindwarp Mandelbrot tie-in a bit weak, great anti-establishment film, and you don't feel spoonfed. 4 stars
10/22/01 tom green I thought sibylla budd was fantastic, much better than the two men. 5 stars
10/16/01 viking Anthony La Paglia is an Aussie Gordon Gecko 4 stars
10/03/01 Garth Elliott Enjoyable, though some repercussions of plot ignored, and a line at the end a bit too glib 4 stars
9/25/01 matthew smith outstanding 5 stars
9/25/01 Graham Bucknell Utter Shite 1 stars
9/13/01 Pierce Lanson Very convincing about corporate greed. Wonderful photography, good story. 4 stars
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  06-Sep-2001 (M)

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