The Bank Job is based on a true story and stars Jason Statham (Crank) as a car dealer named Terry who’s recruited to break into Lloyd’s Bank in Marylebone, London and steal the contents of its safe deposit boxes. After rounding up a small group of friends (who also have criminal histories) and breaking into the vault, Terry and his crew discover the real reason this particular bank was chosen. Past the point of no return, Terry and his gang find themselves playing crucial roles in a major scandal involving the government and the British Royal Family.
The real robbery back in 1971 was quickly swept under the carpet and the press was denied access to any information. Producer Roven says that despite the fact the story surrounding the bank robbery isn't that well known, thanks to how quickly authorities acted in containing the publicity, they did follow the real events as closely as possible. “We certainly may have moved around the actual timing of some events, like for example the robbery was over a four week period of time in reality. We made it over a weekend. And we maybe compressed some characters or expanded some characters, but the events of the robbery and the events of what was going on criminally, culturally in the UK and particularly in London at that time, that's really what we found,” explained Roven.
“We found these great old newscasts from even here [in America],” said Roven. “Walter Cronkite and Harry Reasoner reporting on the robbery and the fact that it was a bank and exactly how they got into the bank, and the fact that they were the walkie-talkie robbers and that it was on the HAM radio [and an] operator flipped it over to the police but they couldn't find them - all that. We have those newscasts.”
In fact, the production even took to the streets of London in order to make The Bank Job as authentic as possible. “Those shots that you see looking across the street, that's the real bank in Marylebone today. We did the production design to make it look period and have the busses there, but that's really a real location. That's exactly where it happened.”
Roven admits that shooting in London didn’t always go smoothly. “It is difficult to get around in London. What you really want to limit is how many times you move during the course of the day,” said Roven. “But other than that, I would say that's the biggest [challenge]. Anything else having to do with that, I think filmmaking in London is really great. This year I've shot in a lot of places. I've shot [in Los Angeles] and New York and Chicago and Montreal and London and Berlin and Milan and Istanbul and Hong Kong.”
Shooting in all of those locations in just one year was, in Roven’s words, pretty amazing. “London, the crew, first of all, it's great to be able to speak English. So the crews I think are fantastic. I mean, American crews are great, but the English crews are great. It was great shooting in Berlin. The German crews were great and they also happen to speak English almost as well as they speak German. The one thing that the UK has, now Germany has it as well, is this fabulous tax deal. It's just too bad that all the benefits of that are gone because our dollar's so low.”
Saffron Burrows, Stephen Campbell Moore, Daniel Mays, and Eddie Gibson co-star with Statham in the film, and Roven says that finding the ensemble cast of The Bank Job was a lengthy process. “I think there was some major casting that really only happened like a few days before we started shooting because Roger [Donaldson, the director] there were many, many great, wonderful, talented people that met with Roger. He just wanted to take his time and make sure he felt comfortable with ultimately who we all elected to go with,” explained Roven.
Roven said that although Jason Statham’s an action movie star, the fight scene wasn’t added into The Bank Job just because he hired on to play the lead bank robber. “Those events and the culmination of everything happening at the train station at the end, that was definitely part of Roger's work in converting it into a thriller. But it wasn't really designed for Jason. It was more narrative-based.”