MOVIE THEATER REVIEW: “The Banker” stars Anthony Mackie (Captain America: Winter Soldier, Black or White), Samuel L. Jackson (Pulp Fiction, The Avengers ), Nicholas Hoult (X-Men: Days of Future Past, Warm Bodies), Nia Long (Big Momma’s House, The Best Man Holiday), and Taylor Black (Dynasty [2019 TV series], Midnight Texas [TV series]). It is directed by George Nolfi (The Adjustment Bureau, Birth of the Dragon), who also wrote it with Brad Kane (Fringe [TV series], Black Sails [TV seires]), Niceole R. Levy (Cloak & Dagger [TV series], Shades of Blue [TV series]), David Lewis Smith, and Stan Younger. Set in the 1960’s, African-American businessmen Bernard Garrett (Mackie) and Joe Morris (Jackson) seek to buy up properties and banks to help their fellow black man in such racial times, all by having a white man, Matt Steiner (Hoult), be the figurehead of their company.
With COVID-19 keeping citizens in doors, now is the perfect time to watch movies. Granted, I saw this feature at a screening two weeks ago, but who cares. Apple’s own “The Banker” thrusts itself forward with three solid leads (Mackie, Jackson, Hoult) and a true story with a hard-hitting, familiar theme. Racism takes form in the aspect of banking, as two black men in the 1950’s seek to take over properties by having a white man pose as the head of their company. It’s a unique idea and offers insight on a different area of this theme many films before it have implemented. “The Banker” has the look and feel of a smaller feature, with a story that isn’t so sprawling, and characters whose conflict isn’t a save-the-world scenario; simply put, it showcases two entrepreneurs who face a harsh system, with deadly consequences around the corner. The performances were solid. Anthony Mackie and Samuel L. Jackson got to share the screen together once more (though they are given more of a dynamic), and it was a surprise to see Nicolas Hoult in this. The three of them worked well together, and even though their characters weren’t the most in-depth, they made for an entertaining watch. Really, that’s all “The Banker” is: a fun feature surrounding a true story that hasn’t been discussed in other films. If you are interested in seeing how it plays out, the filmmakers do a good job in laying out the details (the director George Nolfi even stared that they took almost 100% of their script from audio recordings and records). Sure, it isn’t the most riveting or enticing pieces of cinema that’s out now, but it gets the job done. I laughed at certain moments, and on top of that it had some nice cinematography. If I were to really pinpoint the issue with this film, it would be its characters. As stated, Nolfi pulled from actual archives to mold this script (that’s been sitting for several years), but somewhere in that process he left out their dimension. I didn’t care for these people all that much because the concept consumed the character development. It’s more about how they accomplished what they did than who these people were. Obviously, we were given moments, but somewhere in the second act, there came a shift of character weight, from Bernard to Matt. The story was set up to be Bernard’s, but by the end of it, I wasn’t as attached as I wanted to be. “The Banker” isn’t memorable (outside it’s idea), but it’s at least entertaining to watch unfold. If you are interested, try it out. Otherwise, it’s not necessary. FINAL SCORE: 72%= Burnt Popcorn
Here is the trailer: