Jaume Balagueró’s (one half of the team behind Rec) The Vault (aka Way Down) is a suave heist thriller that comes together like a well-oiled machine. The director uses every frame and edit of his latest venture to move the narrative forward while forging a genre piece that pays homage to the old classics Italian Job and Oceans Eleven. While this picture sustains the action and suspense throughout, it unfortunately falls into a number of genre trappings.
The plot centres around Thom (Freddie Highmore), a genius engineer freshly out of university. After turning down a dozen high-paying corporate jobs, he’s approached by self-proclaimed treasure hunter Walter (Liam Cunningham), who wants his aid on a salvage mission – the job: to recover artefacts they believe will lead them to Sir Francis Drake’s long-lost treasure from the Bank of Spain. His crew have most of the details worked out except for the secrets of how the vault works, and that’s where Thom comes in.
What follows is a series of slickly executed sequences that see the crew get ever closer to solving their conundrum, with one early infiltration mission establishing the stakes and setting nicely. Balagueró keeps the events unfolding at a steady pace, which keeps viewers enthralled in the action as the crew’s plan comes together. When it’s time for the climax, the main robbery itself is smart, suspenseful and exciting – just the way it should be.
The action-thriller offers a fun and unique twist on the classic heist movie, though it cannot help but indulge in some of the genre’s worst habits. Alongside a cheesy suiting-up montage, the third act is loaded with uninspired twists and the obligatory how-they-did-it reveal. While these plot beats are almost mandatory inclusions at this point, they add nothing of note to the events, while detracting from their enjoyment.
Well crafted and smartly paced, The Vault is a glossy slice of high-octane fun. The film isn’t technically bad, nor does it do anything particularly wrong. But it doesn’t do enough to distinguish itself from the rest of the heist pack.
The Vault is released on Amazon Prime Video on 27th August 2021.
Watch the trailer for The Vault here: