Welcome to the inaugural article for They Called This a Movie. As mentioned in the preview article, we used to do podcasts entitled “They Called This a Movie” in the very early days of the site, but this new feature will be primarily articles with a podcast once a month.
For our first trip through the dregs that streaming services have to offer us, we have a low budget bank robber movie, in conjunction with the release of Ocean’s 8. This film is called Bank, and the main reason that we picked this movie was the fact that it was written, directed, and starred the same person. A person by the name of Jah.
Bank doesn’t know what it wants to be, and I think it’s because of its limited budget. I believe the filmmaker intended to make a cool-as-fuck heist movie like Set it Off, Dead Presidents, and a bunch of other movies that one of the characters name-drops in rapid succession. In reality, though, they just didn’t have the money (or the skill) to pull it off. Unfortunately, it seems like they didn’t realize the money wasn’t going as far as they had hoped until they got to the filming of the very long (seven minutes!) car chase at the end. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Bank is the story of Kash (played by Jah), who is just the best at everything, much in the same way that Tommy Wiseau’s Johnny in The Room is the absolute best fiancée and friend that anyone can have. Mostly, Kash is the best bank robber in the LA area, but he’s given up the game to go live in Belize. Actually, he’s not giving up the game, he’s taking it to a whole new level… I guess. He says this, but we never get told what this new level is. Frankly, Kash gives up this idea in favor of the next big score almost immediately.
While Kash is out loving life rolling two women deep at the club, low-level thug B-Roll is not having a great time. Besides having possibly the worst wig of all time, B-Roll’s temper directly gets his brother killed, as he decides to shoot up a couple of security guards that won’t let them into the club because they have a “no plain tees” policy. The emotional death of B-Roll’s little brother, whose name I never bothered to remember, is intercut with Kash and women dancing it up at the same club; it’s very emotional. When Kash robs his next and final bank, B-Roll tries to carjack him. These leads to both of the guys getting hit with a dye pack and an eventual arrest.
In one of the most asinine twists in the film, B-Roll bares the brunt of the punishment, getting sentence to four years in prison. Kash, on the other hand, gets to spend four years in the armed services in lieu of a prison sentence, which I’m pretty sure is not a thing. Regardless, he does such a great job that the military voices over how great a serviceman he was and then shoots the guns of some tanks in the park for no reason.
Meanwhile, B-Roll is up to his old tricks right after he gets out of jail. By tricks, I mean being absolutely terrible at just about everything he does. His first job out of prison doesn’t go so well, as he gets jumped and robbed. Luckily, Kash is super homeless now and was sleeping in his car not far from where B-Roll got jumped and was able to bring him to the hospital. Eventually, B-Roll’s boss catches up with both of them and demands them to repay him $10 million with a bank heist, which seems like a lot of money, and definitely more than what B-Roll loses. Oh, almost forgot: he demands Kash be involved, too, because of a previously never seen nor mentioned gambling debt. This forces the guys to sort of plan, but kind of not really plan, a bank heist to relieve their debt from the big boss man known as Richie Rich.
As mentioned earlier, this movie doesn’t know what it wants to be. It seems like they had high aspirations for making the next cool bank heist movie, but they didn’t have money to meet those expectations, so they recut, maybe they reshot some stuff later on, and tried to add as much comedy into it as possible, which would explain why a lot of the “jokes” are done in ADR, like the best line: “Hurry up, honey. There’s a black man behind you.”
The whole thing is this: half the movie isn’t funny because it’s not trying to be and the other half of the movie isn’t funny despite its, dare I say, best efforts. What you have is a movie that takes itself too seriously in one scene and then in the next, they add unnecessary, baffling CG transitions like birds that just fly across the screen or explosions against a black background. Do the filmmakers know these things are odd? I have no idea.
There’s a lot to talk about when talking about this movie. I’ll give it credit, though: I only noticed one instance of the eye-lines being fucked up, which is a sure sign of a terrible movie. Maybe it shows at least a little bit of competency; maybe it shows the fact that there’s barely any actual conversations that take place in this film. Every piece of dialogue feels disjointed from the one that preceded it and the one that followed it. Characters talk over each other, most of which is re-recorded, and each line of dialogue seems like a non-sequitur, all spoken by actors without charisma. This is a recipe for shit.
The best acting in the film is done by Auntie Fee, whom apparently was a Youtube star prior to passing away in 2017. She plays a foul-mouthed, extremely unprofessional judge, and she flubs two lines (that they left in!), but it doesn’t matter because it’s still the best performance in the film, even when you get distracted by the awful set design of the “courtroom”, which is Auntie Fee in front of a very wrinkly sheet and our two leads that aren’t even in the same room as her during the sentencing. Oh, and we never see a jury member, lawyer, bailiff, court stenographer, nobody. This lack of production value is evident everywhere.
I have to talk about Jah, because while this film never gets to Tommy Wiseau or Neil Breen levels of narcissism, you can tell that there’s still a high level of ego-stroking going on for the writer/director/star. He’s the best at everything, the smoothest cat, and the guy that all the ladies want to bang. The dude has no charisma, however, and he doesn’t know how to direct actors or himself, for that manner. Jah delivers every line still as a statue, doing that “rubbing-your-hands-together-while-you’re-sort-of-flexing-but-trying-to-make-it-look-super-casual” move. But still, the ladies love him; even when he’s homeless, a sexy Latina security guard is thinking about sucking his dick. I assume. I don’t speak Spanish.
He’s also supposed to be the “nice criminal”, but this movie glosses over an ENORMOUS thing that happens: Kash blows up the second bank he robs in the movie. This is literally NEVER mentioned. He successfully robs the bank and he walks away from it as it explodes! He murders people that we never see FOR NO REASON! It’s the craziest fucking thing in this movie, a movie that cycles through the same four or five shots to create a SEVEN. MINUTE. CAR CHASE.
God, the fucking car chase. This is the point where the creative team behind it just gave up. In this car chase, we cycle between shots against green screen, shots in a car that is – very obviously – not moving, and stock footage of the city of Los Angeles. There are even shots in this film where they shot it against a backdrop and DIDN’T EVEN BOTHER TO KEY IN A BACKGROUND! Did I mention this goes on for SEVEN FUCKING MINUTES? The only excuse I can think of is that they flat-out ran out of money. I assume they couldn’t pay the visual artist anymore and they got stuck and hoped no one noticed. FYI: I noticed. I also noticed that on IMDB, the actor that plays B-Roll is credited twice, each of which goes to a different IMDB page. It’s the attention to details that makes this one a great film.
One of the points of these articles is to find something that, despite being bad, is also entertaining and would recommend someone watch. I can’t recommend this. This is a pretty big failure and just kind of boring, if I’m being honest. It’s a strokefest for a writer/director/star that I’m assuming also shelled out his own money for it; a stack of money, I might add, that didn’t cover the expenses he would need to finish this. The tone shifts at a maddening pace, and I’m not sure if it’s supposed to be serious or comedic because they couldn’t do either right. Skip it.