As with any archetypal bank robbery thriller – there’s a distinct, clear line between the heroes and the villains. Those striving to stay alive, and those who seem to be behind their fate. But in Dan Bush’s The Vault, we see a blurring of the lines, as the victims and perpetrators must work together – for they are coming up against something far greater, and malevolent, and much more unpredictable. This, however, is one of the very few aspects of originality injected into this otherwise generic heist thriller.
Sisters Vee (Taryn Manning) and Leah Dillon (Francesca Eastwood) are fronting this ambitious heist, hoping to leave with all of the cash stored away in the vault. While detective Iger (Clifton Collins Jr.) attempts to dissuade the attackers from afar, wanting only to see the hostages returned safely, employee Ed Mass (James Franco) is tasked with trying to put the thieves off from the inside – instructing them to stay well clear of the basement. But given that’s where the vault is, the sisters – and their merry band of accomplices – let their greed get the better of them, and decide to head downstairs. But it turns out that’s not exactly the wisest of moves.
Heist thrillers of this nature work because there are so many things that could go wrong, and it’s here the film thrives – for nothing seems to go right. The opening act is a promising one, for there’s a sense of mystery attached, as we don’t know who may be in on the endeavour, and who is an innocent civilian, caught up in this murky set of affairs. However Bush plays his cards far too early and robs the film of any suspense. We’re also devoid of any palpable back story to any of the characters, which, given it becomes a game of life or death, would be beneficial in allowing the viewer to invest emotionally in their cause, and root for their survival. Instead we don’t care either way who gets away unscathed, though it’s hard not to at least get behind the sisters spearheading this robbery – while it’s encouraging to see such roles fall into the laps of two actresses, for a change.
But the main draw to this title is of course James Franco, albeit a role he probably performed in just a day or two. But, thanks to saying yes to the project, it allows the film to get wider distribution and ensures that critics go to see it. Now it’s not a bad movie, but there’s definitely a small part of us that wishes he’d just declined. Thanks, James.