Director: Wolfgang Petersen
Stars: Til Schweiger, Jan Josef Liefers, Michael Herbig, Antje Traue, Alexandra Maria
Releeased: 25th December 2016 (Germany)
Reviewer: Luke Walkley
When it comes to interesting careers, Director Wolfgang Petersen’s is up there with the most intriguing. The double Oscar-nominated Director of 1981’s Das Boot had only made 10 films in 36 years before his latest Vier Gegen Die Bank.
Perhaps even more interesting, is that these films include the likes of the nostalgic The NeverEnding Story, as well as action favourites such as In The Line Of Fire starring Clint Eastwood, Air Force One with Harrison Ford and Troy, with it’s ensemble cast including Brad Pitt, Orlando Bloom and Eric Bana et al.
Vier Gegen Die Bank is Petersen’s first film in ten years and comes 40 years after his TV movie of the same name. The ensemble cast is led by Max (Schweighoefer) who, bored of living out of his well-off fathers pocket, had started to amass his savings in a bank account handled by Tobias (Herbig). Following a strange turn of events the money disappears and Tobias is fired, leaving Max along with Chris (Schweiger) and Peter (Jan Josef Liefers) without their lifetime savings. The hatch a plan to kill Tobias, but instead decide to use his knowledge of the bank to plan a heist and get their money back.
The anti-heroes use a Panasonic Toughbook rugged notebook to break into a vault during the movie and although Panasonic doesn’t recommend the use of its devices for this type of criminal behaviour, they are perfect for mobile workers that need a computing device to stand up to the most extreme of conditions – whether it’s rain, bright sunshine glare, extreme heat or cold.
With various throwbacks to the 70’s style of the original Vier Gegen Die Bank is a fun-filled crime caper that we’ve seen before, yet somehow manages to stay exciting. Petersen hasn’t changed much from the original, apart from a few differences in the characters back-stories, but it’s ultimately a good thing – Petersen was approaching what was arguably his peak ahead of Das Boot and that has transferred into this remake.
The cast, made up of well-known German stars, do well with the material, which surprisingly was translated from an English-language screenplay – a risk – in that the humour doesn’t necessarily always translate fluently. Herbig is the stand-out star as Tobias, shining brightest amongst the strong performances of the rest of the cast.
The film is set to a jazzy, upbeat score from Enis Rotthoff and is set amongst some wonderful scenery and architecture, all of which reinforce the 70’s vibe that Petersen has clearly tried to recapture. In a nice deviation from the standard heist film formula, Vier Gegen Die Bank‘s main plot-point comes just after the half way mark, making for a fast paced middle third. It’s perhaps this change in tempo that does leave the final few scenes limping towards a conclusion.
Vier Gegen Die Bank is one of the best crime-capers of recent years and while it’s release may be limited to German language audiences, a subtitled version will still provide a fun experience for fans of films in an Oceans 11 ilk