Film Review: The Vault

STUDIO: Saban Films | DIRECTOR: Jaume Balagueró | CAST: Freddie Highmore, Famke Janssen, Liam Cunningham, Sam Riley, Luis Tosar, Astrid Bergès-Frisbey
RELEASE DATE: March 26, 2021
SPECS: R | 118 min. | Crime thriller

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie 

The elements of most heist movies are familiar:

-Priceless jewels or large sums of cash or stolen booty is being protected in an impenetrable place.
-A group of criminal experts led by a mastermind get together to pull off the job.
-A first-time crook with a specific expertise joins the group of veteran crooks.
-An attractive woman has a major role in the crime and often gets romantic with one of the participants involved in the pilfering.
-A ticking clock is involved.

The Vault hits everything on the checklist, yet remains exciting and fresh throughout.

A Spanish production in English and in Spanish with English subtitles helmed by Jaume Balagueró (REC), The Vault stars Freddie Highmore (The Art of Getting By) as Thom, a young engineering wizard recruited by salvage pro Walter (Liam Cunningham, Game of Thrones) to become part of his crew in robbing the Bank of Spain. Housed inside the bank’s vault is a legendary treasure that was taken by authorities from Walter who worked for years on retrieving it from a sunken Spanish galleon. Making Walter and his squad’s job especially difficult is that the theft must take place within a limited time during a World Cup Soccer match involving Spain and that the vault is fortified by an underground river that floods into it if a security breach is detected.

The Vault’s tension level is highly ratcheted from the get-go. After Thom joins the impossible mission, there’s a terrific extended sequence depicting the group’s hair-raising efforts at surveilling the bank. One wonders if anything else in the movie will equal the segment in term of excitement and suspense. Thankfully, director Balagueró has a smart script and more impressive tricks up his cinematic sleeve.

Helping to give the thriller some gravitas is a fine cast, with Highmore fine as the likably brilliant novice, Cunningham as the determined ringmaster to whom you may show some empathy and Astrid Berges-Frisbey (The Well-Digger’s Daughter) as the female wild card in the robbery. The rest of cast is comprised of sturdy British and Spanish character actors and former Bond girl Famke Janssen (Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters) as a mysterious European liaison.

The Vault stays true to the heist movie form throughout, but there’s enough energy, excitement and effort on display to make it well worth an audience’s time.

Watch The Vault

About Irv

Irv Slifkin has been reviewing movies since before he got kicked off of his high school radio station for panning The Towering Inferno in 1974. He has written the books VideoHound’s Groovy Movies: Far-Out Films of the Psychedelic Era and Filmadelphia: A Celebration of a City’s Movies, and has contributed film reportage and reviews to such outlets as Entertainment Weekly, The Hollywood Reporter, Video Business magazine and National Public Radio.