The Banker review by Bobby Blakey
There are so many stories throughout history that are baffling that they are true focusing on race. The latest, The Banker takes on the subject of race mixed with financial setting the stage for an interesting film. The film stars Anthony Mackie, Samuel L. Jackson, Nia Long and Nicholas Hoult, but does it do justice to what these men did or will it fail to get approval?
The Banker follows revolutionary businessmen Bernard Garrett and Joe Morris devise an audacious and risky plan to take on the racist establishment of the 1960s by helping other African Americans pursue the American dream. Along with Garrett's wife Eunice, they train a working class white man, Matt Steiner, to pose as the rich and privileged face of their burgeoning real estate and banking empire - while Garrett and Morris pose as a janitor and a chauffeur. Their success ultimately draws the attention of the federal government, which threatens everything the four have built.
The great cast alone had me interested in this film, but the story here alone is worth checking it out. The beginning of the film stumbles a bit feeling more like a low budget TV movie at first before it fins its footing. I don’t know if it is something about the production or just the way its shot but it kind of felt out of place to me from the rest of the film. It is a minor bump before getting into this engaging story. Any film dealing with race issues obviously has some heaviness to it and this film is no different, but somehow they keep it from ever getting too far away from the business of it all.
As the story moves along there are so many great moments and twists to how they pull off their business deals and build their real estate empire. Both Mackie and Jackson are great here as expected with their different personalities crashing together perfectly. Mackie is the straight laced numbers guy with the ideas on how to make things work while Jackson is the money man with the quick wit and fast mouth. With the subject matter I was surprised there were not more emotionally powerful moments, but glad they kept it streamlined to their rise in the real estate market.
Make no mistake there are some powerful moments, but the impact is more about their successes than how others tried to hold them back. With films like this I always want that end credit follow up sharing the true people it was based on and this one delivers with the impact their deals have even today.