Bank robberies and hostage situations lend themselves so greatly to the big screen for the simple fact that everything can go wrong. There are so many intricacies to pulling off the perfect heist, and one wrong move could see the entire endeavour collapse without repair. This leads us on to Dan Bush’s The Vault, where everything that could go wrong, does go wrong – and then some.
Ed Maas (James Franco) is one of several victims working at a bank that has been targeted by a merciless collective of thieves. With a mission spearheaded by sisters Vee (Taryn Manning) and Leah Dillon (Francesca Eastwood) – they’re here for the vast amounts of cash that sits in the vault. With a few hiccups early on, alerting local detective Iger (Clifton Collins Jr.) – they have the option to flee before it’s two late, but their greed gets the better of them as they make their way into the basement to get their hands on the money. But there’s something lurking in the shadows down there.
The film gets off to an excellent start, thriving in its sense of mystery, as we don’t know who is in on the robbery and who isn’t – as we study the subtle nuances to each character trying to figure out where we stand. But sadly the elusive approach is short-lived, as Bush plays his cards far too early into proceedings, instantly stripping the film of suspense, turning it in to your archetypal survival flick.
It is interesting, however, in how we blur the line between the victims and the perpetrators, as it transpires that each and every person within this bank is coming up against something far greater, and far more frightening than each other. So often with films of this nature the conflict and fear is instilled only by those wielding the guns, demanding the safe is unlocked, yet in this instance they’re not exactly safe from danger themselves.
So while generic in many parts, there are smatterings of originality peppered throughout this narrative, while it’s refreshing to see the female characters given so much power, as they represent both the brains and the brawn of the operation. They aren’t exactly fleshed out, mind you – but then again, nobody really is. Which includes, of course, James Franco as the branch’s assistant manager. When you get celebrated stars signing on to small-budget projects of this nature it often means one of two things. Either the screenplay is so good they simply couldn’t resist getting involved. Or, they’re just a friend of the filmmaker. In this instance, one would imagine it’s the latter.