Director: George Nolfi
Starring: Anthony Mackie, Samuel L. Jackson, Nicholas Hoult, Nia Long
Run Time: 120 mins
Available on: Apple TV+
Inspired by true events, The Banker follows revolutionary businessmen Bernard Garrett (Anthony Mackie) and Joe Morris (Samuel L. Jackson), as they craft a bold and perilous plan to face the racist establishment of the 1960s head-on by helping other African Americans pursue the American dream. Garrett’s wife Eunice (Nia Long) helps the men train a working-class white man, Matt Steiner (Nicholas Hoult), to pose as the rich and privileged face of their burgeoning real estate and banking empire.
"That's what I like about you. You are a good person. Ain't been corrupted by the world yet. Like a child. But, that's gonna change when you get rich."
Drawing on true events for inspiration, The Banker tells the story of two African American businessmen living in 1960s America as they. When combining forces, knowledge and sheer will, Bernard Garrett (Anthony Mackie) and Joe Morris (Samuel L. Jackson) make a formidable team. The film follows as they take on the racist establishment of the 1960s and help others pursue their own American dreams. Bernard and Joe hire and train a working-class white man named Matt Steiner (Nicholas Hoult) to be the face of their emerging empire, allowing them access to far more than would otherwise have been possible.
We first see Bernard as a young teenager but are immediately given a window into his intelligence and brain for business. We see his father, proud of what his son could achieve, praise his intuition but cautions him into dreaming smaller. We then cut to 1954 and watch as an older Bernard now living in Los Angeles begins to look for real estate investment opportunities. After being told no time and time again, he meets Patrick Barker who sees something in Bernard’s approach and invests in him. Once they begin to do business together, Bernard is confined to the shadows during deals despite putting in the work purely because of the colour of his skin.
When his partnership with Barker ends abruptly, Joe Morris comes onto the scene and takes his place. The pair then hire Matt Steiner to close deals in their place even though he doesn't have any of the necessary skills to do this alone. Steiner relies on his memory of strategies, mathematical equations and numbers which works for a long time. However, taking on his own bank later on in the film proves to be just as big a mistake as Bernard and Joe thought it would be.
Directed by American screenwriter, producer and director George Nolfi, previously known for directing huge hits like The Bourne Ultimatum starring Matt Damon and Ocean’s Twelve starring George Clooney, the film’s production was in good hands. The Banker was well-paced, nothing felt rushed and nothing felt like it was taking too long to happen. Incredible direction combined with exceptionally well-made casting decisions made the film really stand out as an amazing piece of cinema.
The performances given by each of the actors were incredible. Anthony Mackie, known for his role in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Sam Wilson/The Falcon, and Samuel L. Jackson, known for appearing in many huge blockbusters such as Kingsman, Jurassic Park and the Marvel Cinematic Universe, both did a brilliant job at portraying the thoughts of their characters without any of them having to be explained to us. Their clear chemistry shone through in their performances and combined with the addition of X-Men’s Nicholas Hoult and Nia Long, the cast created a relatable and realistic relationship between the main characters.
The film received a 7.3 rating on IMDB, which is low considering the cinematic excellence displayed in the two-hour run time. The lower ratings the film received are surprising given how well each element of the film has come together, the acting, direction, cinematography, costume design - all of it! However, it's no surprise that these lower ratings were combatted by an onslaught of high praise from viewers, many of whom said it was a film they were glad they’d seen.
The Banker tells an incredibly important story, one that we should all be aware of, but still tells it in a cinematically gripping and entertaining way. Samuel L. Jackson was made for roles like this and he definitely gives a performance to remember. If you haven't yet seen this masterpiece, you should definitely check it out on Apple TV+, it really is a must-see film!
"If this was easy, somebody else would have done it a long time ago."
Words by Chloe Pollard.
Trailer from YouTube - Apple TV.