A unique spin on heist flicks, “The Bank Job” is surprisingly dour, yet ultimately clever escapism. Based in part on true events, several real occurrences from 1970s Britain come together in an unbelievably dodgy bank robbery.

Terry Leather (Jason Statham, “Transporter 2”) is a down-and-out car dealer desperate for dough. With a dopey crew and the aid of former squeeze Martine (the beautiful Saffron Burrows, “Reign Over Me”), Leather and his gang uncover a lot of mad secrets in a bank vault.

The plot is awfully stretched. Take these parts for example: Princess Margaret may have been ruining affairs. Numerous crooked coppers were busted after proof of pornographer payoffs surfaced. Michael X, the British counterpart to Malcolm, was involved in some shady guerilla business. And in 1971 the Lloyds Bank of Baker Street, London, was robbed. No arrests were ever made in the case. All true events linked somehow to the robbery.

Is it coincidence that these all happened at the same time? “Bank Job” seems to think so, and it’s far-fetched fun. Heist traits aside, Statham, thank goodness, becomes a real leading man and it’s nice to see him in a non-idiotic, monosyllabic action (like in “Crank,” “War” or “Snatch”).

Sloppy and at times a bit harsh for the action-craving patron, “Job” still more or less delivers. By subverting the trappings of the thief movie, giving it swanky ’70s London flair and having curious historical context, “Bank Job” is a smashing good show.

“The Bank Job”

Rating:3 out of 5 stars

At Showcase and Quality 16

Lionsgate

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