Banker is a 2020 drama film directed by George Nolfi. This screenplay was co-authored by George, Niceole Levy, David Lewis Smith, and Stan Younger. This film stars Anthony Mackie, Nicholas Hoult, Nia Long, Jessie T. Usher, and Samuel L. Jackson. It followed two black businessmen during 1960’s America. Joe Morris (Samuel L. Jackson) and Bernard Garrett (Anthony Mackie) were the first two black American bankers. This film is based on the entry story of two people who opposed racism in business practices in the 1960s.
The film’s release was postponed after allegations of sexual harassment against two people linked to the film emerged. The allegations are directed against the son of Bernard Garrett Sr., Bernard Garrett Jr., and a co-producer. Following these allegations, Apple TV + canceled the film’s premiere at the AFI Festival. The co-producer was also removed from credit at a later date. It is finally released theatrically on March 6, 2020, for a limited token period of two weeks. It’s finally released digitally on the Apple TV + streaming platform on March 20, 2020.
Also read: Murder Among The Mormons Review: A Fascinating True Crime Documentary
Banker – Plot Details and Synopsis
It was 1954, and we were following the ambitious Bernard Garrett who wanted to get into real estate and make it big. However, growing up as an African-American, he was well aware of the institutional drawbacks he had to face. Despite racism and discrimination, he wants to break free from the shackles of the less fortunate and become a successful man. He wanted to climb the ladder in Los Angeles real estate but found it difficult because of racism. Soon, he met wealthy club owner Joe Morris. With Morris, he makes plans to get past systemic hurdles. Convincing Morris to become his co-investor, the two tied up Matt Steiner, a white male, to be their frontman for the deal.
This scheme worked, and the two immediately began climbing the ladder of success in real estate. After some time, they became very successful. Along the way, Morris and Garrett taught Steiner the basics of real estate investing. John and Morris embark on their mission to navigate through systemic racism and break through discriminatory and segregated housing. The three of them buy several properties in LA and try to separate the neighborhood. They began selling and renting to blacks, who had lost their business loans and home ownership. Morris and Garrett asked Matt Steiner to be the acceptable face of their behind the scenes work. However, Matt’s working class is not well equipped with knowledge of real estate investing. Despite Morris and Garrett’s teaching and training, Matt’s amateurism develops into larger conflicts later in the story.
Move to Banking
After his success with real estate investing, Garrett attempted to buy a local bank in his hometown of Texas. He wanted to give black people an equal opportunity in terms of economic status. Black people are greatly disadvantaged and discriminated against because of the racism that is embedded in every step of the system. This racism prohibits black people from having socioeconomic opportunities. This resulted in discriminatory housing for blacks which led to a separate environment. It also eliminates their opportunity to take out loans for small businesses. Garrett wanted to change that and decided to move into banking. Morris was initially reluctant to embrace the idea but eventually stepped in. The three of them immediately moved to Texas.
After moving out, Matt bought the bank. However, the local townspeople were very suspicious of the action. However, suspicion did not only exist among the townspeople. The bank people were suspicious of this development too. A bank executive decided to act on his suspicions. He tracked down the loan records and found that they made loans to black people. Following Matt, he finally discovers that his partner is black. He then threatened them that he would expose them and that would seriously hamper the bank.
Busted and The Ending
Matt then persuaded Morris and Garret to buy another bank. He convinces them to put him in the bank, despite their inexperience. Later, we saw the racist bank executive appear again. To bring down the three, he called in federal investigators to check Matt’s bank records. Matt’s inexperience applies when investigators discover multiple breaches of bank records. These violations and offenses are caused by Matt’s inexperience and carelessness. As a result, all three were arrested for violating federal banking laws.
Matt received a prison sentence of 50 years. He then took up a plea deal in which he gave false testimony against Morris and Garrett. He testified that he was actually cheated by them. The next day, Garrett gave a vigorous and powerful testimony. He testified about black people being given the same socio-economic opportunities as white people. He and Morris were eventually convicted, and sent to prison. After being released, they moved to the Bahamas with wife Garrett Eunice and son. Both houses in the Bahamas were purchased by Matt. Garrett had entrusted this money to Matt before testifying for this purpose.
Banker is a well-knitted, unconventional civil rights drama
Banker is a civil rights drama but with original footage. Others in the niche describe the plight of marginalized and disadvantaged blacks. In fact, this film, although presenting the same struggle, appears fresh. The protagonists are two bright and ambitious men who dream of making it big in the midst of a racist and unjust America. Garret and Morris aim to be successful wealthy people, even though they have social limitations. They are smart and do their job with a smart facade. While Matt views them as acceptable and friendly white faces, they are posing as cleaners and chauffeurs. Both Anthony and Samuel do a wonderful job of bringing their charisma into the show and making them trustworthy.
Mackie is great at portraying a man who is sincere, assertive and ambitious. He carries a character that can be trusted. Even though he wasn’t given a lot of work, he gave quite a performance. His appearance is refreshing after the hugely popular Marvel character he knows today. Speaking of Marvel, the chemistry between Jackson and Mackie is expected to be extraordinary. The two mix really well, and a lot of what makes this film great is because of the chemistry. Samuel was also refreshing as he strayed from his trademark expletive appearance. The two actors are the anchors holding you back while the jargon-filled scene becomes drab. The reason why the two of them cooperated so well was quite clear. But usually it is ignored; I think both Jackson and especially Mackie are very underrated as dramatic actors.
Also read: Framing Britney Spears Documentary Review
Although technical at times, this film is a strong first feature for Apple TV +
Banker did well in the first half and started to flop a little in the second. I feel that the first half contains a much more interesting, slick, and fast-paced narrative. When he starts getting into the jargon and lore of banking and housing, he may lose interest. However, there is an argument that the film does not hold the audience’s hand. And that’s not all common. In fact, the details of housing that was discriminatory and unfair to blacks in the 1950s are very informative. This shows how black people are shunned in terms of economic mobility. Being black and getting a loan or home ownership was more than just difficult at the time. This film does a great job explaining that and also teaches a thing or two about how to be successful.
The cinematography is excellent at presenting a look that is in keeping with the times. Coupled with great music, this film does a great job of creating a 50s look and aesthetic. However, there is something lacking in relation to the execution of the film as a whole. The show is good, but the dialogue is not very interesting. That’s in large part because the film is so factual. I think a lot can be done with the tension or tension associated with Morris and Garrett’s facade. This film investigates a lesser known hero from the past. Revolutionaries and leaders have translated to the big screen many times before. But this one is about two normal men with high ambitions, which is refreshing to watch. Overall, the film is a strong first feature for Apple TV +.
My rating for The Banker is 4 out of 5.
Bankers are streaming Apple TV +.