Based on the book, “Signal Red,” by Robert Ryan.
Version: 2013; starring Luke Evans
Genre: drama; heist movie
Plot Summary: [from imdB:] “A two-part drama which portrays The Great Train Robbery of 8 August 1963, firstly from the point of view of the robbers and then from the point of view of the police who set out to identify and catch the robbers.”
My Review: Disclaimer*: I have not read the original book, so this review will not be comparing it to that novel. Only as a story in and of itself, totally unrelated to the book.
Hey, I enjoy a good heist movie now and then! Who doesn’t? What made this movie intriguing was the fact that it (and the book it’s inspired by) are based on the real life account of Bruce Reynolds and his fellow thieves who set out to rob the Bank of England. And it takes place on a train. In the 1960’s! Oh, yes… can anyone say classy? The beginning scene in particular reminded me of The Thomas Crown Affair.
This movie is split into two parts: Part 1- A Robber’s Tale, which follows the story of the actual attempted theft; and Part 2- A Copper’s Tale, which follows the story of Scotland Yard as they attempt to catch the thieves. This is not a fast moving film. In fact, much of it was in slo-mo and I think it was in sore need of editing. But the time era the movie was set in, along with props and costumes (and Luke Evans’ great geeky glasses!) were fun to watch. Also includes some great ’60’s pop music.
Unfortunately, there are so many characters in this movie, it’s hard to keep track of them all. Although keeping each of them separate isn’t necessary, it would make it easier to become more involved with the story if you could actually keep them all straight.
It is hard to like DCS Tommy Butler (chief investigator) because of his harsh personality. But I understand that the filmmakers were attempting to create a story based on real events. I have no idea how close to the truth this movie gets, but it feels factual.
I didn’t feel the need to cringe much where language was concerned. I’m sure there were lots of British slang/cuss words, but since I’m not British I didn’t catch them. That’s fine by me! Would I recommend this movie to families? Absolutely not. Although there are no sex scenes, there were at least two very offensive scenes that contained nudity, with no warning to look away. There is also two scenes showing couples in bed, but nothing graphic. A man hides a key up his rear, but we don’t view that, fortunately! There is also at least one scene taking place in a public men’s bathroom. Do I really need to be privy to that?
The ending was thought-provoking, though. SPOILER ALERT: When Bruce Reynolds is finally caught by Butler, Reynolds is bitter about the fact that so many of his comrades were sentenced to 30 years in prison. He believes they didn’t deserve such a harsh punishment since they didn’t murder anyone during the theft. Butler says that they just shouldn’t have committed the crime in the first place if they didn’t like the sentence. To which Reynolds replies that because of the way the law handled their sentences, criminals will be more encouraged than ever to arm themselves when they commit crimes. After thinking about this, I decided the inspector was right. These criminals may not have murdered anyone, but they did steal A WHOLE LOT OF MONEY. We’re talking today’s equivalent of £41 million here! If these men got off with a lighter sentence, what would prevent others from attempting to do the same thing, and possibly succeeding? This could not happen again and had to be seriously discouraged. But it was an interesting debate! END OF SPOILER.
Ironically, this movie aired on television the same day one of the original robbers (Ronnie Biggs) died. Bruce Reynolds also passed away several months before. It’s sad they seemed to live such detrimental lives. It makes one stop to think: how will we make our mark by our choices– for good or bad?
I wanted to like this movie, but it was just way too offensive in places for me to feel like recommending it. Perhaps the book would have been better… Has anyone read it?