The Banker 2020 movie

The Banker – Everything goes through money, even civil rights

Rule number one of any business is it takes money to make money, a valid point, especially for an aspiring banker like the one in this 2020 movie.

Everything is even more complicated if you’re a young black man in the 1950s and 1960s like Bernard Garrett, who used to raise pennies by cleaning rich white men’s shoes.

Against everyone’s advice, even his father, he really wants to become an entrepreneur since he is extremely knowledgeable in complex mathematics and real estate laws and has a natural talent for finding possible money-making opportunities that others underestimate.

However, as we said at the beginning, it takes money to make money, so when Bernard smells a building to buy and renovate with a good profit margin, he must enlist the help of Irish tough guy Patrick Barker to get a loan they would never give him.

Years go by, and he becomes the landlord of numerous buildings, earning him good money. Yet when Patrick dies suddenly, he needs to call on the bizarre Joe Morris, whom he initially wanted nothing to do with.

Yet not even Morris’s money can complete the project he has in mind: buying the Banker’s Building, one of the most important buildings in Los Angeles and headquarters of numerous banks and financial institutions.

Indeed, in the 1950s, no one would allow two blacks, no matter how rich and successful, to own the white man’s big-money house.

So those businessmen proceed with the purchase with the help of young worker Matt Steiner, an honest young worker they use as their official face to close the deal.

If that seemed impossible, Bernard had an even riskier project in mind: becoming the owner of the Main Land Bank in the same town in Texas where he was born and raised.

Black, white and green dollars

Making a biopic without an unwieldy emotionality weighing down the story you want to tell is often challenging.

Yet in 2020, George Nolfi movie succeeds in the non-easy task of telling us about business and the racism reigning in the 1950s, closely following the rise and fall of this brilliant black banker.

We keep a high pace in the editing, fast-flowing through when these key figures were advancing black rights during that difficult period of endurance before the tremendous social changes.

Yet even while keeping a high pace, all the essentials are narrated as calmly as they should be, and above all, the script succeeds in simplifying many complex concepts within the world of the loan market and buying and selling real estate.

Not surprisingly, when the excellent black actors Anthony Mackie and Samuel L. Jackson explain the real meaning behind these numbers to young Nicholas Hoult, they are actually talking to us in the audience, who are often confused by the strange explanations banks give about how they use our money.

Besides the perfect pacing in Joel Viertel‘s editing, Charlotte Bruus Christensen‘s cinematography is equally excellent, which takes us stylishly back to that distant era without necessarily employing the usual abused “sepia filter” typical of stories in the 1950s.

The theme of racism is also here intelligently, especially in the second half when we move to Texas, of course.

Without showing brutal and bloody episodes of violence (sadly daily happened) like Mississippi Burning or similar movies, the air we breathe is one of open intolerance from white bankers when they suddenly realize they’re now working for two black men.

Because when you are skillful enough at telling the facts without over-emphasizing any situation, truth is more than enough to get the proper emotions running.

Moments of history not to forget

Despite watching and enjoying many movies where he was among the leads, I never liked Anthony Mackie too much.

His acting has seemed a bit staid and sterile to me, but in this case, these are perfect characteristics for a character like Bernard Garrett, given the mathematical precision of his decisions and the infallibility of his predictions.

Moreover, Mackie’s portrayal doesn’t limited to being an unexpressive accounting Terminator. In many scenes, we can see a simmering anger on his face, a testament to the injustice standing in the way between him and his deserved success.

Samuel L. Jackson (always cool as Joe Morris as in any role in life) points out this anger to him on multiple occasions, though Garrett obviously denies it each time.

It is so pleasant to see such different black actors find each other side by side in two crucial roles fighting against racism, which prevents the same conditions of being able to get loans as whites, nipping in the bud any chance of the American dream.

Finally, Nicholas Hoult‘s white face closes the trio, here playing the good and naïve Matt Steiner, a simple, honest working boy who does not have the same business knowledge as the other two, although he has an excellent memory to play the part perfectly.

Although he would like to help his friends, he unwittingly causes their downfall; yet, in the end, he also manages to redeem himself by giving them a chance to start a new life in the Bahamas.

Finally, among the various other supporting characters, I want to highlight the performance of the graceful and resolute Nia Long as the protagonist’s faithful and unwavering wife and the funny Colm Meaney as the harsh (but honest) Irish businessman who gives Garrett his first shot.

Among the many biopics before and after 2020, The Banker was one of the most underrated movies, a piece of American history not to be forgotten. Anyway, despite its poor box office performance, although reading the various opinions and reviews online I found that, fortunately, many agree with me. What do you, on the other hand, think about it? Let me know in the comments, I’m really curious.

The Banker 2020 movie
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