- Anthony Mackie, Samuel L. Jackson, Nicholas Hoult
- Niceole R. Levy, George Nolfi, David Lewis Smith, Stan Younger
- George Nolfi
- 14A (Canada), PG-13 (United States)
- Running Time
- 120 minutes
- Release Date
- March 20th, 2020 (Apple TV+)
As the first original film for Apple’s relatively new streaming service Apple TV+, The Banker certainly has a lot ridding for it but it also has a lot going in its favor, from the money Apple can throw at it which showed and may very well have also led to a impressive cast featuring Anthony Mackie, Samuel L. Jackson, and Nicholas Hoult. Despite it looking good and being well-acted by its aforementioned cast, this period based-on-a-true-story drama is a little too much on the bland side for it to truly stand out and be memorable. Though it may be well-intentioned, the story plays like it’s a good TV movie (makes sense considering the platform) that hits all the same familiar beats while trying too hard to be something for everyone (four credited screenwriters may have contributed to this) without going into anything with any kind of depth (which may have contributed to its bland nature). With a running time touching 2 hours, the film definitely could have been shorter as well.
The Banker tells the story of a pair of 1960s African-American entrepreneurs named Bernard Garrett (Mackie) and Joe Morris (Jackson) and the white man they hired named Matt Steiner (Hoult) who pretended to be the head of their booming business empire. Focusing on Garrett, we watch as he grew from an ambitious young boy growing up in a racially-segregated Texas to a booksmart young man who moved to Los Angeles along with his supportive wife Eunice (Nia Long) in search for better opportunities for himself and his family. Meanwhile, Garrett wanted to give back to his community who were just as disadvantaged as he was. Having to work twice as hard because of his race, Garrett hustled his way to a growing real estate empire but if he truly wanted to succeed at his higher aspirations, he couldn’t do it alone. Cue Morris, Eunice’s uncle, a man who couldn’t be more different than Garrett which was probably why their relationship was so fun to watch. Morris was a man who had plenty more life experience as he had clearly been through things so he would serve as mentor of sorts for Garrett.
In the end, regardless of how successful Garrett and Morris may have been together, their race could only take them so far. Cue Steiner, a man from a completely different walk of life who would have to be trained to be just like the other two, a task that would be easier said than done. Nevertheless, the process was fun to watch. Despite this, Steiner was much more than just a comic relief that served the will of the other two main characters and was a deep character in his own right with thoughts and ambitions of his own. However, the story felt like it veered too far away with Steiner and lost sight of the other characters as it told his story which felt similar to Garrett but was bland and not nearly as compelling to watch (i.e. another white guy perspective). Eventually, as these stories often went, they would find a way to converge. Though those familiar with the film’s story can probably figure out how this story will go, the end was a little underwhelming to say the least.
The production value and the cinematography were good but ultimately, the best part of The Banker was its performances, particularly that of Mackie, Jackson, and Hoult as Garrett, Morris, and Steiner respectively. Mackie was bland as the monotone Garrett though maybe that was the point while Jackson brought that same Samuel L. Jackson energy to Morris, arguably balancing out with Mackie. Regardless, their chemistry was solid and still made the film compelling to watch despite its blandness, Hoult was solid as well, fitting right in with Mackie and Jackson, though also came off on the bland side. Finally, Long as Eunice Garrett did her job as the supportive housewife while bringing nothing new to the role.
At the end of the day, The Banker is an unflashy drama that won’t set the world on fire but as far as a first attempt at an original film for Apple, it’s not bad.
*still courtesy of Apple*