It is 1971, a major league Royal has been a “scallywag” and a Black Power radical has the photographic evidence to prove it. This is a job for MI5. Or is it?….
Instead of the Security Services getting directly involved, a gang of petty thieves is unwittingly recruited to bust into the branch of Lloyds Bank on Baker Street with the aim of stealing the safety deposit boxes, the de facto arrangement is that once the photos have been recovered by Martine, MI5’s woman on the inside, then the ne’er-do-wells get to keep the rest of the loot.
This is a classical British heist movie with a twist as it is based on a true story. The Royal connection is well known and resulted in a D Notice gagging press coverage on the grounds on “National Security”, something I bet the current degenerate lot would like to see used on a regular basis, Jug Ears especially given that now we all know his wacko fantasies regarding Camilla and sanitary products.
The box also contained photos of several leading Tory Ministers giving a whole new meaning to the Parliamentary term “Three Line Whip”, and considering what was a stake, the idea of getting some small fry London minor criminals to do the job seems risible.
Needless to say complications arise which culminate in dodgy deals involving none other than Earl Mountbatten delivering false passports under the clock at Paddington Station in order to recover the evidence, and at least three of the protagonists meeting a sticky end.
Because this is a Clement- Le Frenais penned picture, there seems to be a feeling abroad that film should be funnier. There are the trademark witty lines, but this is a gritty film and no one comes out of it with a great deal of credit from the Establishment who sanction it, to the Black Power guy who will murder to continue blackmail possibilities, down to the gang themselves.
I enjoyed the film and found the pace, dialogue and acting to be very competently done with Jason Statham surprisingly good as the heist leader, and the ambience of the times is excellently portrayed, all of which makes this a very good effort.