Opening 19 Jun 2008
In 1971 robbers dug a 40-foot tunnel under Lloyds of London into the bank vault. They cleaned out 268 safety deposit boxes and got away with probably three million pounds in cash and jewelry. While working, they communicated with their look-out, who was posted with a walkie talkie on the roof of a neighboring building. Robert Rowlands, a ham radio amateur, taped their conversations and notified the police, who checked 750 banks within a 10-mile radius in central London, but never opened any vaults over that weekend. Not until Monday morning did the bank realize that it had been cleaned out. Included in the loot were compromising photos of Princess Margaret and various important politicians who frequented a sado-masochistic brothel. A militant black power leader from Trinidad called Michael X, the daughter of a politician named Gale Benson, a pimp, the secret services and corrupt policemen were involved in such ways that today people believe that the robbery was pitched to the thieves from high places in order to gain control of the incriminating evidence in the safety deposit boxes. Headlines of the bank robbery dominated the newspapers for four days and then news mysteriously disappeared, possibly because of a gagging order under a so-called British D-Notice censorship law, which was modified in 1993. Supposedly, no arrests were ever made and no money ever retrieved, although other sources say that four people were convicted in 1973. Michael X was executed for murder in 1974.
Director Roger Donaldson has connected all these true-story threads of murder, sex, and corruption to make an exciting film, starring Jason Stratham as ring leader Terry and Saffron Burrows as Martine, the girlfriend who conveys the original idea. He researched all sources from the last 36 years and possibly had a deep-throat informer to fill in the details. From the radio tapes he had original dialogue for his screenplay. The film might start slowly but it builds up to the aftermath, which is even more thrilling than the deed. (Becky Tan)