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'The Bank Job'

London's "walkie-talkie bank job" of 1971 got its name when a ham-radio operator picked up conversations between burglars and a lookout and reported them to police. From that nugget of fact, the filmmakers have created an amusingly detailed, vaguely plausible fiction — a bank heist caper involving royal sexcapades, the British secret service, a brothel that caters to members of Parliament, bungling bobbies who coddle curmudgeonly crooks, and a good deal of frenetic tunneling.

Director Roger Donaldson, with writers Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais, has found ways to give things a comic twist (or six) without actually turning the film into an outright comedy, and in Jason Statham, they have an agreeably poker-faced leading man. If the result rarely feels very urgent, it's still plausibly acted and decently plotted, and it has a pleasantly old-fashioned feel to it — along with a crackerjack last 10 minutes.

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Bob Mondello, who jokes that he was a jinx at the beginning of his critical career — hired to write for every small paper that ever folded in Washington, just as it was about to collapse — saw that jinx broken in 1984 when he came to NPR.