Two members of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Anthony Mackie (Sam Wilson/The Falcon) and Samuel L. Jackson (Nick Fury) team up to take on the real world supervillain that is institutional racism in this historical drama based on a true story.
Texan Bernard Garrett (Mackie) is ambitious, industrious, intelligent and entrepreneurial, but those qualities don't get you very far when you're African American in 1950s Texas, so he moves to Los Angeles with wife Eunice (Nia Long), and plans to get into the city's exploding property market.
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Despite initial success, Garrett continues to hit the racial ceiling, so along with his business partner Joe Morris (Jackson), a successful night-club owner, he recruits a young white man, Matt Steiner (Brit actor Nicholas Hoult – Beast in the X-Men movies) to be their frontman in a bold commercial real estate move.
Against all odds, their gambit – purchasing the largest office building in Los Angeles, one that houses all the major banks – succeeds, and the pair's empire expands. But after visiting his father in Texas, Garrett's most ambitious goal becomes clear: he wants to own his home town's bank, so he can approve loans to African Americans otherwise denied the opportunity to advance their own interests.
A welcome alternative to the "white saviour" narratives that have unfortunately dominated this storytelling space, The Banker gains considerable power from the rock-hard convictions of its lead character. Mackie's staid performance bounces nicely against Jackson's charismatic swagger, and the pair's chemistry is one of the best things about the film.
As inspiring as it is to see these two men fight the system, the sad state of American racial injustice continually asserts itself, showing how it's often a case of one step forward, two steps back.
Although not especially profound and sometimes a tad too mired in bewildering accounting lingo, The Banker is nevertheless an ultimately uplifting viewing experience.
Cast: Samuel L. Jackson, Anthony Mackie, Nia Long
Director: George Nolfi
Running time: 120 mins
Watch: Streaming on Apple TV+
Verdict: Decent melodrama, fine performances and a couple of nice victorious moments.