"The Banker" is a new feature-film available on Apple TV+ on March 22nd, 2020, as well as in limited theaters starting March 6th, 2020.
"The Banker" had high hopes of competing during the 2019 awards season. But due to some behind-the-scenes trouble, the film was pulled from its initial December release date, and pushed back until now. The story, about real-life African-American financial-sector pioneers Bernard Garrett (Anthony Mackie) and Joe Morris (Samuel L. Jackson), was co-produced by Bernard Garrett Jr., who was accused by his younger, half-sister of sexual molestation and abuse. It's a charge he have vehemently denied, yet in the wake of the #MeToo movement, it was enough to see his name erased from all publicity materials and to have the film re-launched this March.
That outside drama aside, "The Banker" is definitely worth watching. Mackie plays Garrett as an articulate and tight-laced banking prodigy, who from a young age had dreamed of breaking through racial barriers. Taking notes from the white businessmen that he'd shine shoes for, Garrett propelled himself outside of what was thought to be possible at the time. Partnering - begrudgingly - with the outlandish investor, Joe Morris (Jackson), he worked his way up, becoming one of the most successful black bankers in American history, and definitely the first to accumulate significant wealth.
As we learn in the film though - and as one could imagine - the struggle to succeed was a near impossibility. The recruit a white friend and co-worker of Garrett, Matt Steiner (Nicholas Hoult), as the face of their operations, since most every other person in a position of power would never openly deal with a black person. Steiner learns the ropes, and in one incredible scene, he manages to ink a deal to purchase a massive skyscraper for less than the going rate, simply by reciting a bunch of numbers that he had memorized after being coached by Garrett.
While this is an important chapter in American history, it's also a bit too common unfortunately, and that familiarity makes us feel like we've seen "The Banker" several times before. Add to this that much of the film shows Mackie and Jackson talking in excruciating detail about numbers, percentages and returns (re: lots of math), and the movie doesn't quite move along as quickly as you may want it to.
Even still, the performances are solid, the story is gripping and it's a slice of American History that has never been given the light of day. For those reasons, "The Banker" is a worthy investment.
Run Time: 2 hours.
Starring: Anthony Mackie, Samuel L. Jackson, Nicholas Hoult.
Directed by George Nolfi ("Birth of the Dragon," "The Adjustment Bureau").
"The Banker" is in limited theaters and also available on Apple TV+ on Friday, March 6th, 2020.
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