Director: John Quested
Starring: Albert Finney, Martin Sheen, Susannah York, Colin Blakely, Jonathan Pryce & Robert Morley
Released by: Kino Lorber Studio Classics
Reviewed by Mike Kenny
Based on the novel by Robert Pollack, Loophole centers on career criminal Mike Daniels (Albert Finney, Big Fish) and his cronies as they embark on an ambitious heist of one of London’s most prestigious bank vaults. Requiring the services of a straight man in the highly successful yet, unemployed Stephen Booker (Martin Sheen, Apocalypse Now), the desperate architect agrees to join the team in hopes of turning his misfortunes around. Susannah York (The Awakening), Colin Blakely (The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes), Jonathan Pryce (Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl) and Robert Morley (Around the World in Eighty Days) costar.
Marking the final directorial effort of John Quested (Philadelphia, Here I Come), Loophole is a tightly crafted and well-executed crime picture bringing the worlds of expert thieves and one down on his luck businessman together for the heist of a lifetime. Suffering from a series of professional setbacks and living a lifestyle well beyond his means, respected architect Stephen Booker is offered a position unlike anything else. Discovering a vulnerability in the underground sewer systems, professional bank robber Mike Daniels targets the International Securities Bank holding millions and requires Stephen’s architectural expertise to navigate the team’s entry. Struggling to repay his own debts while funding his wife’s (York) new interior design business, Stephen agrees to the arrangement pending no violence is utilized. Efficient and precise in their work, the crew penetrate a nearby manhole cover as they descend under the city to eventually emerge through the floor of the thought to be impenetrable vault. Tearing through brick walls and combatting poisonous gas, rats and unexpected flooding, the well-thought-out scheme may cost the men their lives before recovering their riches. Hosting excellent performances from both Finney and Sheen, Loophole may not be the most exciting of pictures yet, the thieving crew’s calculated plot and refreshing camaraderie between them make the film an engaging watch. In addition, although Stephen’s insistence of nonviolence foreshadows the likelihood of a rogue teammate backstabbing his allies, the lack of such an expected cliché makes seeing the charismatic crew succeed in their mission all the greater. Critically panned and largely overlooked by audiences at the time of its release, Loophole is a crafty crime thriller worthy of retrieval from the vault.
Presented with a 1080p transfer and sporting a 1.85:1 aspect ratio, KL Studio Classics’ handling of Loophole is a passable effort that admires accurate skin tones and only slight traces of speckling seen mostly during the film’s opening. Far from a wide-varyingly colorful feature, costume textures are pleasing while, the crew’s yellow truck pops effectively. Furthermore, once the thieves enter London’s sewer system black levels are respectable with visibility generally satisfying. Equipped with a DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mix that handles dialogue with ease, Lalo Schifrin’s (Mission: Impossible) score is presented with decent, if not, inconsistent effectiveness while, the click-clang and explosive sound effects during the crew’s penetration of the sewer rings nicely. Special features include, an Audio Commentary with Director John Quested, moderated by FilmWax Radio’s Adam Schartoff. Lastly, a Trailer Gallery featuring Loophole (1:26), When Eight Bells Toll (2:49), Juggernaut (2:54), Thunderbolt & Lightfoot (2:00), The File of the Golden Goose (2:37) and The Internecine Project (3:00) conclude the disc’s bonus offerings.
While Loophole may not take more dramatic chances with its narrative, the film offers wonderful performances from its entire cast and delivers an excellent overview of the painstaking planning of a job, perhaps better than most heist films before or after. Scant on extras, KL Studio Classics breaks this bank robbing picture into the HD realm with admirable results, sure to satisfy cinematic heist hounds with a penchant for the overlooked.
Available now from KL Studio Classics, Loophole can be purchased via KinoLorber.com and other fine retailers.