THE BANKER – An Important Film That Failed

Everyone say a warm and salty “Hello!” to Sam. He’s the newest Kernel-on-trial at The Salty Cob. Sam lives outside of the Sydney CBD so will be helping us with home entertainment and screener reviews for the next little while. We’re all excited to see what Salty Sam brings to The Cob. Enjoy his first review with The Salty Crew.
– Kernel Claire

The Banker runs for 120mins and is rated M. It’s available now as an Apple Original on Apple TV+

Samuel L Jackson and Anthony Mackie in The Banker

BY SAM PHILLIPS

SYNOPSIS:

THE BANKER, available on Apple TV+, stars Marvel’s own Anthony Mackie (THE HURT LOCKER, THE ADJUSTMENT BUREAU.) and Samuel L. Jackson, (THE HATEFUL EIGHT, PULP FICTION.) as well as Nicholas Hoult (MAD MAX: FURY ROAD , WARM BODIES) Revolutionary businessmen Bernard Garrett (Mackie) and Joe Morris (Jackson) devise an audacious and risky plan to take on the racist establishment of the 1960s by helping other African Americans pursue the American dream. Along with Garrett’s wife Eunice (Nia Long), they train a working class white man, Matt Steiner (Hoult), to pose as the rich and privileged face of their burgeoning real estate and banking empire – while Garrett and Morris pose as a janitor and a chauffeur. Their success ultimately draws the attention of the federal government, which threatens everything the four have built.

Table Manners – Samuel L Jackson and Anthony Mackie

THE LONG QUEUE:

The first question I have for THE BANKER is “why is it two hours long?!” This film would work so much better as a one hour documentary original. It would most likely have made the film wildly more successful. Most of the film is just filler nonsense. For example – a ten minute golfing montage that serves no purpose to the overall story or themes. The only thing that keeps the movie from flatlining is the very charismatic performance from Samuel L. Jackson. He genuinely seems to be enjoying the role, despite delivering a somewhat underwhelming performance. If it weren’t for Jackson, I would have fallen asleep watching this cluttered mess. It really has almost nothing exciting to say. Yet as the title implies, it’s an important film.

Anthony Mackie – Welcome!

THE DEPOSIT:

This film, along with Spike Lee’s DA 5 BLOODS has been released at a very important time in history. Both of these films serve as a transition into the new digital age of home-streaming. It also provides a political commentary on the current state of racism in America. Despite the movie failing basic technical aspects, it does leave you thinking about its message. And admittedly this is often the most integral part of a film. When first going into THE BANKER, my main concern was that it was going to be a ‘Woke’ mess. I was concerned it would pander to the most basic liberal demographic and ignore the problems happening in modern society. I was met with some of that, most notable with Nia Long’s (BIG MOMMA’S HOUSE, THE BEST MAN) character. She served as a vending machine for terrible lines. But most of the film felt very refreshing with its political messages. It shows us a very realistic interpretation of the 60’s in America. Rather than having every white man be comically evil, or every black/ African American man heroic – it struck a good balance.

THE BANKER, is scripted without giving the audience a helping hand. They go all in on the business talk. It’s a key step in writing a film about this subject matter. Without this writing style, the film would end up being a stale mess. As an audience member, you attempt to keep up with everything that is going on. You place yourself into the shoes of Matt Steiner. When everything clicks and you start to understand what all this maths means, it’s a reward for the viewer. It makes you want to rewatch with a calculator in hand to see if they crunched all these equations correctly.

Sore shoulders? Anthony Mackie and Samuel L Jackson

THE MEN BEHIND THE COUNTER:

As I mentioned, Samuel L. Jackson is the one thing in THE BANKER that truly works. He is perfectly cast as this egotistical, childish man, that is also extremely intelligent and a genuinely emotive character. Every time he is on screen I am awoken from the trance that the film put me into. Yet, Jackson isn’t the lead of THE BANKER. That title goes to Anthony Mackie. Mackie delivers a compelling performance as Bennard Garret, this performance being easily the best work I have seen from him. Yet, there is a very specific problem with Mackie in this movie. Most people would consider it a nitpick, but it continuously bothered me throughout the film’s runtime. Anthony Mackie is just so buff. Yes, I understand that Mackie has to be in shape for his work as Falcon in the MCU! Garret being so physically big takes me out of the movie much more than it should. This problem could be easily fixed with a recast. An entirely unknown actor would do well in a role like this. If I had to propose someone for the role, I believe SELMA star David Oyelowo would do the character justice. 

What A Wunch of Bankers

THE FINAL TRANSACTION:

THE BANKER is ultimately an underwhelming, yet somewhat integral film, that I wouldn’t recommend to many people. It has good performances, well explored themes, and unique writing. Unfortunately the movie ultimately falls short in what matters most: an experience. There’s a reason almost no one is talking about THE BANKER. It’s because at the end of the day, it’s mediocre. It delivers a somewhat enjoyable time that you can look back on and say to yourself ‘Yeah, that was ok’. 

KERNEL SAM’S POP SCORE:

YOUR CRITIC:

Kernel Sam is both the youngest and newest member of Salty Popcorn. He spends every spare moment he can watching films. When he is not watching them he is talking about them. See more film discussions on his Instagram @sam_talks_movies or on his Youtube, Sam Talks Movies.

** Images used are courtesy of various sources on Google or direct from the distributor or publisher. Credit has been given to photographers where known – images will be removed on request.