The heist movie can take many forms, from the careful planning and execution of Ocean’s Eleven and Logan Lucky to the waylaid getaways of Witching and Bitching or the shattered aftermath of Reservoir Dogs, but some would be happy even to get as far as that. Sometimes even making it out of the vault alive and intact is enough.
It’s minutes before five, soon to be closing time at the Centurion Trust Bank, and Leah Dillon (Heroes Reborn‘s Francesca Eastwood) is disguised for a job interview to get her inside the office while big sister Vee (Weirdsville‘s Taryn Manning) plays a surly customer demanding to know why a payment has bounced, her cover not far from the truth, a twitchy loose cannon who is as unpredictable as Leah’s actions are considered.
The doors locked and the guns pulled, the Centurion Trust houses a group of terrified hostages, among them tellers Susan and Mary (Sons of Anarchy‘s Q’orianka Kilcher and Rings‘ Jill Jane Clements) and some very angry and disappointed criminals when they realise that far from the intended haul of half a million they only have around $70 thousand, far from enough to clear the debts of brother Michael (Midnight Special‘s Scott Haze).
As the emergency vehicles tear through downtown towards a nearby fire accompanied by the incongruously joyful retro soundtrack the opening scenes recall the films of Rob Zombie, particularly The Devil’s Rejects, perhaps foreshadowing what is to come, and even before the serene order of the bank is overturned there are hints something darker is soon to be deposited.
“It’s an old building,” Leah was warned in her faked interview. “People think they see and hear things.” And if they want the want to know where the real money is, so they are told by assistant manager Ed Maas (11.22.63‘s James Franco), they will have to descend to the vault underneath the main building, a place of shadow where their walkie-talkies will loose signal…
Directed by The Reconstruction of William Zero‘s Dan Bush, The Vault is competent but lacks flair with little attempt to establish itself as unique and certainly offering nothing to compete with the pizzazz of Baby Driver, though as the descent finally commences there is some grim and ghastly atmosphere, the appearance and sound design of what lies beneath upsetting and effective.
The impressive cast of character actors, both familiar and less well known, are all far better than the script co-written by Bush and Conal Byrne which only feels like half of the story, the decision to focus solely on the immediate events of the robbery itself meaning the characters are effectively strangers whom the audience are never given the chance to know or understand.
The precise mechanics of the heist thriller and the ambience of the ghost story are not natural bedfellows, and with a clumsy and telegraphed coda and the backstory of the branch reading like a really bad horror film – one considerably worse than this – their collision here makes for a restless and unsatisfying experience whose interest rates never pays the promised dividends.
The Vault is in cinemas and on iTunes and digital HD from 8th September