"You're going to work so much better with my foot against the back of your neck."—Simon O'Reilly (Anthony LaPaglia)
A callous bank CEO (Anthony LaPaglia) with a penchant for Nietzschean aphorisms ("I'm like God—but in a better suit") spins his plans for global domination by controlling the stock market. No, it is not Wall Street. A math nerd (David Wenham) develops a brilliant computer program that uses chaos mathematics to predict the stock market. No, it is not Pi. A family (Steve Rodgers and Mandy McElhinney) sues an evil corporation over the foreclosure of their house and the mysterious death of their son. No, it is not Erin Brockovich.
It is The Bank, an Australian thriller written and directed by Robert Connolly. Everything about The Bank is assembled from bits of other movies. Even the music by Alan John sounds almost identical to Philip Glass (although he meant to sound like Bernard Hermann). In his journeyman commentary track, Robert Connolly points out all the thrillers he watched to prepare for the film, from Hitchcock to Oliver Stone. His ultimate intention though was to make a "fun, enjoyable thriller."
Basically, he has succeeded—nothing more. The plot is rather calculated, trying to balance two fairly unrelated plots (chaos guru Jim sets up his computer trading program, while the family tries to fight the bank in court), but their ultimate convergence is awkward and forced. We are supposed to direct our sympathies toward Jim and the Davis family (although they end up enemies through a clunky coincidence). However, Connolly's script gives over much of its authority to LaPaglia and his über-banker Simon O'Reilly, as part of the film's transparent attack on modern capitalism. The Australian LaPaglia plays the American O'Reilly as, well, Gordon Gecko. "We have now entered the age of corporate feudalism," he quips, "and we are the new princes." Nearly every line of dialogue that comes from his mouth feels like he is reading the quotes at the top of his Franklin Covey planner. But the rest of the cast, especially David Wenham, get buried.
In his commentary, Connolly mentions a host of extras (a student film, deleted scenes, and interviews) supposed to be on the DVD, but the only real extra (other than the commentary track) is a four-minute storyboard sequence. Perhaps all those extras were on the Australian release. The film is also list on its packaging (and all sources I can track down) as running between 103 to 106 minutes, but this DVD only runs 99. Did Miramax wander into New Yorker's offices with their editing scissors?
You will not miss all that stuff much, however. The Bank is a solid and unexceptional thriller, the sort of thing Hollywood cranks out by the dozen. If this is what Connolly was shooting for—a standard American-style movie that could get him a job with a major studio—expect he will get hired shortly to produce more movies like this, only with much bigger budgets and A-list actors. As Simon O'Reilly would say, "Make your breakthrough!"
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Scales of Justice
Studio: New Yorker Films
• Commentary Track with Robert Connolly
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