Spain’s 2010 World Cup win was certainly cause for noise. The type of noise that might mask the sounds of the world’s most difficult heist. At least that’s what Walter (Liam Cunningham) hopes when gets his team of salvagers together to pull off the ultimate score. Spain’s victory was real, and The Vault slots its story in behind the massive celebration for a lovely European spin on the heist movie.
Thom (Freddie Highmore) is a reluctant engineering whiz. His father has high hopes for him, pushing him to take one of many lucrative job offers chucked his way. But Thom doesn’t fancy the boring life of office space and regular paychecks. He wants to be enticed. So when Walter, a mysterious thief, springs into his life via covert meetings and promises of near-impossible engineering feats, Thom starts listening. Walter and his team are working on reclaiming a score that’s been seized by the government and hidden in the world’s most secure vault. The vault, inside The Bank of Spain, is a mystery; one that’s perplexed engineers and is presented to Thom not as a problem to solve, but one to first discover. With Thom’s attention firmly in hand, Walter gathers his team of renegades and drags the young scholar into the lucrative and dangerous world of grand larceny.
Heist movies tend to follow a certain formula, this being no different. Seth Green as the quirky tech guy in The Italian Job wasn’t the first nor last meta-approach to the trope. The Vault isn’t breaking any new ground, but it doesn’t have to (save for the thick ground between them and the inside of a vault). There’s the quirky computer guy, the maverick, the boss, and the nervous newbie who all come together to form the good-guy-criminal squad. Unfortunately, The Vault’s takes on these lovable archetypes don’t come with a ton of charisma. The characters are forgettable and the relationship dynamics are too hollow to root for, or sometimes even notice.
Not every criminal gang leader can be the as magnetic as Danny Ocean, but the vault mechanisms should at least be. There’s a lot of stock put into the cluster of problems the team must solve, but they don’t all make a lot of sense. They’re a bit too farfetched to buy into, and the solutions feel as contrived as those in later seasons of House MD. The upshot is that they make for exciting set pieces. If you can stand having a gamut of scenes where the tension relies on countdowns to zero, they pay off with roaring floods, uncomfortable breath holding, and justified beads of sweat.
Director Jaume Balagueró, most known for his work on REC, continues to prove a master of suspense. Where the REC series uses tiny and claustrophobic spaces, The Vault is all about enormity and grandiosity. The camera never relegated to one space, Balagueró manages to toggle between massive areas and still create a feeling that the walls are caving in.
Much of the size and scale of the feature comes by way of Arnau Bataller’s score. It’s epic and begets finger-snapping and toe-tapping in ways that mirror Balagueró’s direction creating shrinking tension paired with the ostentatious.
There’s love for the comforting formulaic movie that allows audiences to switch off and choose to be enveloped in suspense, and that’s what The Vault delivers. It certainly won’t standout nor stand the test of time as compared to heist-movie greats. However, it will make for a perfect Saturday evening viewing such that you won’t be too fussed about missing dialogue because of how loudly you’re munching the popcorn.
The Vault is coming to select theaters, digital, and On Demand on March 26.
Epidemiologists do not think it’s safe yet to go to theaters even with social distancing and safety measures in place. This review of a theatrical release is not an endorsement or suggestion otherwise. This film was reviewed via a screening link.
Header Image Source: Saban Films