The Banksy Job (2016) is a documentary directed by Ian Roderick Gray and Dylan Harvey, following the antics of Andy Link or AK-47. A proud leader of the “art terrorists” group Art Keida that, by his own words, are intent on causing mayhem. A piece that runs longer than it needs to but with an interesting approach to telling the tale of when Andy Link stole Banksy’s piece The Drinker.
Andy Link is aimless at first, getting involved in football hooliganism and porn for a time, but he’s soon drawn to the art of Banksy – frustrated that he hadn’t thought of using the streets of London as a canvas himself, he decides to kidnap Banksy’s piece The Drinker. This was also motivated by Banksy’s refusal to sign a print Andy had bought of his. Now, we’re all suspect to doing crazy things when struck by heartbreak and for 79 minutes we witness the actions influenced by Banksy’s disinterest in an eccentric Yorkshireman who calls himself an artist.
Banksy’s piece The Drinker was a play on Auguste Rodin’s The Thinker – originally representing a suffering soul intent on creating poetry through pain. The Drinker – with a cone on his head – is stripped of its romanticism and made relevant, portraying the horseplay of most after enough liquor in the liver. The traffic cone clearly represents both that and a dunce hat, turning this thinker into an unintelligible drunken fool.
Banksy plants his sculpture in the center of a busy central London street and Andy wastes no time in taking it away, keeping it in his back garden, and requesting a sum of £5,000 to cover expenses, a few pints and maybe a Banksy canvas.
Banksy offers a total of £2, Andy’s pride is bruised and during his absence the piece is stolen from his garden by an unknown group. Suffering another heartbreak, Andy manages to have The Drinker recreated by the very people who created the original and returns it to the same spot it had been put, only this time with his own touch. This involved having the sculpted drinker sat on a bolted down toilet with a chain to flush on his left. Andy creates his regurgitation of both Rodin and Banksy’s piece, naming it The Stinker.
At the very scene of the original crime, returning the piece with his own fingerprints Andy is met with applause which is all he really wished for. Although the approval wasn’t from Banksy himself, the onlookers applause definitely put a smile on his face. At this moment you feel the need to applaud Andy too, after such desperate efforts to have an impact, he finally manages that.
A fairly interesting, somewhat engaging piece with attractive set design that at times resembles a comic book – the hero being Banksy, the villain Andy and the one-sided war for revenge ensues. The directors definitely chose to give this piece some edge by re-enacting scenes rather than keeping the camera on Andy’s expressive face as he tells the tale. Although, the piece’s vibrancy is often diluted at times by the charmless narration of Andy, and your wavering interest falls. The camerawork jumping from the handiwork of Andy himself and his mobile phone, to the flashy Guy Ritchie-esque style which feels as though it’s both pushing away and pulling in the viewer unwillingly.
Throughout the film both Andy himself and others interviewed call him an artist, but with each passing minute you feel unsure due to the lack of evidence apart from a handful of talking heads and their generous words. Bold statements inflate his ego in a documentary that appears to be catering to it, and with a running time of 79 minutes the viewer inevitably loses interest. The only piece of evidence was his idea of giving his own interpretation of The Drinker and returning it to its original place, but after all his troubles previously it does partially appear as a desperate attempt for notoriety.
With that in mind, as much as the piece has got plenty of eye-catching sequences, if at the root of it all the story doesn’t contain any colour and energy in of itself, then it’s clear the story shouldn’t be produced as a feature-length.
Dir: Ian Roderick Gray and Dylan Harvey
Prd: Christine Alderson and Alex Hurle
DOP: Anthony Dias
The Banksy Job is available on Digital and DVD now.