A Gripping Watch
85%Overall Score

Verdict – You will not want to hit pause while watching this one.

Available on AppleTV+

AppleTV+ has thrown the gauntlet and is officially a part of the streaming wars with its first movie – The Banker. We as a society are trying to be more inclusive than ever where we are not only trying to move beyond a person’s skin color but also other parts of their personality that didn’t fit the definition of normal. We have not reached the stage of total inclusiveness yet, and the path to where we are now would not have been possible without certain people who strived to change what their skin color meant to the world around them. Among them are Bernard S. Garrett (Anthony Mackie) and Joe Morris (Samuel L. Jackson) the first African American bankers in American history.

What’s The Banker About:

The Banker begins with a hearing in 1965, where we know that the Senate wishes to make an example out of Bernard and goes into flashback telling us that even if we are rooting for our hero, this is not going to end well. In 1939 Bernard lived in Willis, Texas, where he shined shoes outside significant offices. When he was not doing that, he was eavesdropping on conversations around him, trying to learn as much as he could about banking and finance. Bernard had a way with mathematics and he grasped the concepts pretty quickly. His father warned him that it would be near impossible for Bernard to use these things to earn money since he was African American. By 1954, Bernard, along with his wife Eunice (Nia Long) and their son Bernard Jr. (Jaylon Gordon) had moved to LA, where he wished to invest in properties that were dubbed as white neighborhoods and open up the lease to people of other descents as well. Because of the color of his skin, he has trouble acquiring loans until Mr. Barker (Colm Meany) assists him in securing the loan in exchange for being business partners. After Mr. Barker’s death, Bernard had to look for a new partner in Joe Morris along with Matt (Nicholas Hoult), who was the front for all their business dealings.

What Works:

The Banker is based on a real story in a time when housing segregation based on race was rampant across the USA and it affected many who wished to leave their days of trouble behind. The movie informs without preaching about the problems an African American man can face while trying to move up in the world. The film prefers to show rather than tell the hardships. They trust the audience to understand the underlying message without using long speeches to drive the point home. The movie doesn’t dumb down any of the banking jargon; instead, it elevates the audience’s knowledge to that of the characters, which great writing and is a commendable feat.

It is great to see Anthony Mackie and Samuel L. Jackson share the screen. They complement each other perfectly, and we wish to see more of them in the future. Even Nicholas Hoult completes the trio without anything that seems amiss. Special mention to the dialogue writers who wonderfully move the story forward with lines that stay with you after the movie is over. “Why is it so important for you to exclude an entire race of people from the American dream?” and “Negro man don’t earn money with this, a white man won’t let him no matter how good they are,” are some of the examples.

What Could’ve Been Better:

While the story and performances are flawless, the characters could be more fleshed out. While we know their entire story, we would not be able to name more than a couple of things about each character and, in some cases, not even that. The movie duration could have been longer to do that and probably help us engage more with the characters.

Why You Should Watch:

Hollywood has been biased when it comes to highlighting stories like these where people of other races have had big wins. You can even compare the story and consequences to a movie like The Wolf of Wall Street, which was also based on a true story. The film raises some important systemic flaws, like a typical scenario was not designed to be unbiased and help the minorities. George Nolfi has successfully re-created the 60s, which people to this day refer to the gentlemen’s era. AppleTV+ has genuinely made an excellent call for their first movie and we will be waiting for anything new that comes to their platform. If you are looking to watch something different and inspiring this weekend, this is it.