'Bank Job' enjoyable; '10,000 B.C.' great for teens

Set in 1971 and based on a true story, "The Bank Job" is an enjoyable addition to what is a solid genre, one perfected by the Brits as well as the Yanks.

This fast moving film (read fast, fast, fast) takes place in the Marleybone section of London where an odd group of amateurs gather together to plan a straightforward bank job. They rent a vacant store three doors down from a bank. There will be some tunneling involved, jackhammers needed, lights strung, a bucket to get out the excess dirt, and a lookout with a walkie talkie, giving the word if the coppers show up.

When they reach &

according to the blueprints &

the spot underneath the vault, they'll cut a hole in the floor and voila tout! It's just a matter of emptying out the safe deposit boxes and quickly slipping away, cash, jewels and bearer bonds in hand. Sounds doable. Plus the bank is closed for three days and the security alarms disabled while a new system is installed.

But hang on. What appears to be an uncomplicated heist gets, well, complicated involving Britain's Secret Service, plus a host of seedy characters who are connected to the safe deposit boxes at the bank.

Suddenly, the gang that can't shoot straight is being pursued by some very desperate people who can shoot straight and are fully prepared to commit mayhem to get back what was taken from them in the robbery.

What the robbers can't understand is why not only the cops, but G-men, a notorious pimp and drug dealer, plus a few crooked cops are all in the hunt.

The audience should know that "The Bank Job" is a movie which is enjoyable precisely because the cast of nefarious characters are all converging on the hapless gang of first-timers who only want to grab the money, fence the jewels, cash in the bonds and go on an extended holiday.

Instead, things get dicey and what could go wrong does go wrong and not always to bad effect.

Regarding the two principal actors: Jason Statham and Saffron Burrows. Statham portrays Terry, who is barely making a living selling used cars.

Unexpectedly, given his overall thuggish look, he's married with two children and seems a decent fellow. Now, Statham is best known for the entertaining B-movies "Transporter 1, 2"; however, he's actually a good actor and far from one dimensional.

Burrows is also a fine actor, who plays a vulnerable aging model enlisted by the cops to manipulate Terry and friends.

She has a face that the camera loves while conveying her struggle with a past that was completely predicated on her once resilient youth.

Their performances, along with a strong supporting cast, make "The Bank Job" appealing in so many ways.

10,000 B.C.

On the way out of the theater, a group of boys turned to one another and agreed, "that was awesome." Meaning "10,000 B.C." received their vote and then some.

But first things first: the MPAA rating for 10,000 B.C. is PG-13 and right on the money, meaning if you're 9 to 15 years old, well, this one's for you.

Not for the parents, not for the snarky critics, not for adults with high expectations (good dialogue, top drawer acting), rather, just for the tweens and newbie teens.

It must be great to be a kid today and love movies, especially considering the wondrous films being made of this ilk: "Narnia," "The Golden Compass," "The Spiderwick Chronicles"...all of them.

As for "10,000 B.C.," with computer graphics, the world 12,000 years ago can look seamlessly real. Wonderfully real. Mastodons roam the steppes, giant saber-toothed tigers rule, and life is lived on the edge (man was not on top of the food chain), though surrounded by some of the most gorgeous scenery imaginable.

So it doesn't require too much movie genius to devise a compelling adventure: members of a small clan of hunter-gatherers &

including Evolet (Camilla Belle), a lovely blue-eyed young woman &

are kidnapped by demons (masked men) from beyond the distant mountains, riding four-legged animals never seen before (horses). D'Leh (Steven Strait) and three companions set out to rescue them, traveling across the low Siberian steppes to the African plains. Geography is of little consequence.

Their journey is an ordeal, but they continue, all the way to what looks like the pyramids of the Pharaohs.

But, as far-fetched as all of this is, there was likely not one kid in the audience that had to suspend his disbelief. After all, who really knows what 10,000 B.C. looked like?

And the meaning of being a hunter-gatherer, or an agrarian farmer, well, it's a distinction that is touched upon, but of no real import to the story. Of course, for the small clan to take dried corn seed back to their home will change their lives forever, but that's another movie and not one that will appeal to a 10 year old.

But serve up an intense trek and a heroic rescue with a nice twist at the end, well, this is a tantalizing recipe and the young audience will be hugely entertained.

And what else are such films really for?

Get the boys (mainly boys) in the seats, popcorn in hand, and then dazzle the heck out of them. Which is now possible with Hollywood's quiver of technical know-how and template storytelling.

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