As of this writing, the notion that hard work is enough to climb the economic ladder has become largely a fallacy. And if we’re being completely honest, it’s never been realistic for vast swaths of the world’s population – even in affluent nations like the United Kingdom. Basking in the tradition of fun heist films from across the pond, Sam Bradford’s The Pay Day is a snappy movie that comments on these problematic issues. Still, he never loses sight of the primary mission of delivering an entertaining ride bolstered by charismatic performances from Kyla Frye and Sam Benjamin.
Frye plays Jennifer, a hard-working IT wiz unable to garner the appreciation of her demanding and seemingly abusive boss, Ms. Boomer (Ellen Thomas). Finally having enough of the abuse at her office, Jennifer seeks new employment only to receive a mysterious call from Gates, a mysterious man played by Simon Callow. He offers her a chance to get back a large chunk of money that posh government and banking officials have all but stolen from the working class of the U.K. The catch being that it involves breaking into a building in broad daylight and stealing sensitive information.
Initially unwilling to embark on this illegal endeavor, the promise of a large sum of money from Gates finally convinces Jennifer. During her bold robbery, she’s interrupted by a handsome man of mysterious origin, introduced as John Smith (Sam Benjamin). Is he a friend? Foe? A mixture of both? Maybe it doesn’t matter because viewers will just be glad the two actors are on screen together. Thankfully, the two are the primary focus.
“…a chance to get back a large chunk of money that posh government and banking officials have all but stolen from the working class…”
Frye and Benjamin are an absolute blast in The Pay Day. There’s little chance that the flick would have worked without their chemistry. Their interactions start off as cautionary explorations of their roles in the building but quickly turn to amusing banter fraught with sexual tension and natural curiosity. The plot introduced by Bradford and company isn’t exactly novel on its face. Still, because it’s purely a mechanism for these two performers to get together, it doesn’t prove to be too detrimental to the overall experience because a successful two-hander doesn’t need a lot of extra padding anyway.
The film bursts with formal precision, positioning the director as a more accomplished filmmaker than his output would indicate. With its quick editing and polished aesthetic, this fits very neatly into the family of London heist pictures that we’ve come to love. The omnipresent jazz score can be a bit much at times, but its propulsive quality does add to the energy – not that it’s a movie yearning for an added boost.
I’m not sure that Cowell’s role is entirely necessary, and the overall scheme is admittedly silly. However, most heist films aren’t exactly known for a propensity for realism, anyway. These shortcomings, though, don’t hold this back from being sexy, fast-paced, and loaded with memorable interactions from the delightful pairing of Frye and Benjamin. Most importantly, it stays lighthearted and funny even when it nods lightly toward social commentary. The Pay Day has something for everyone and shouldn’t be missed for those wanting a good time, and isn’t that everyone?
"…sexy, fast-paced, and loaded with memorable interactions..."
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