The Banker

Apple+ TV originally developed The Banker as their Oscars bid, but the Atlanta-lensed film was derailed after the family of pioneering black businessman Bernard Garrett unloaded some problematics on the son with a co-producer credit. The movie was yanked from the festival circuit, and initial plans for a theatrical release were quickly postponed – which is fine for a production best meant to play on an iPhone. There are plenty of big ideas behind the story of Garrett (Anthony Mackie) and Joe Morris (Samuel L. Jackson) building a real-estate empire in the ’50s and ’60s by posing as a butler and chauffeur while using white guy Matt Steiner (Nicholas Hoult) as the face of their business. There’s something small about Jackson being brought in to be a bad-ass magnate delivering dialogue that could’ve come straight from another Shaft reboot. His role feels more like a labored attempt to provide some kind of spirit to what should be a fun celebration of heisting a culture. Hoult, however, still gets way too much time as the film’s lead. It’s a great performance as an empty vessel, but the script can’t decide if Steiner’s a total idiot or an idiot savant. Then the final act – after the investors move into Texas – wants to be a capitalist celebration, but George Nolfi’s mannered direction simply turns the climax into a crash course on business.