HOLLYWOOD─I always say I’m not the biggest fan of movies that force America to reflect back on its ugly history, while questioning if enough has been done to acknowledge that we’ve come much farther than what we claim. I absolutely had trepidations about watching the film “The Banker,” but I am indeed glad I gave it a shot. Why? It tells a true story about two heroes in my eyes that I had no knowledge or history about.
This drama follows Bernard Garrett (Anthony Mackie) and Joe Morris (Samuel L. Jackson), who find themselves getting ahead in the real estate industry after being denied multiple opportunities because of the color of their skin. Bernard wants to get his career in real estate underway, but finds it difficult as a Black man because racism plagues his opportunities. He soon gets Joe to be his co-investor to start purchasing property in Los Angeles.
The narrative works so well thanks to powerful performances by Mackie and Jackson. I’m so used to seeing Jackson in a role where he is screaming at the world, so it was a welcome change to see his performance as a subtle, yet powerful man who backs another Black man in hopes of obtaining the American dream: a successful career. Mackie is equally talented in the role, as the duo come up with the guise of having a White man, Matt Steiner (Nicholas Hoult) act as the front of their company to obtain investors and close real estate sales.
Is it a bit devious? Of course, but in such a difficult time in America what else were African-Americans expected to do in order to obtain loans from banks in hopes of purchasing their own homes. The sad irony of the tale “The Banker” highlights is the fact that the same issue still exists in our country today.
Minorities still have difficulties obtaining loans from banks because of the color of their skin. It’s not the fact that they are not qualified or don’t have the funds to obtain such a loan, we still live in a society where the color of one’s skin dictates the opportunities presented to them. The movie doesn’t just address the issue of racism in the business arena, but segregation and how it continued to be prevalent in the 1950s despite movements being made with the passing of Brown v. Board of Education, but a lack of diversity in many neighborhoods.
Bernard, Joe and Matt’s mission helped Blacks purchase property and desegregate neighborhoods that were once predominantly White. Long story, short “The Banker” forces us to acknowledge that we have not come as far as we’d like to think we have in ensuring everyone in America has an equal opportunity at access to things that are deemed essential rights for all. I will admit the big climax of the movie upset me quite a bit, which just dug that dagger a bit deeper into the fact that while we all want the same things, minorities are indeed treated different because of the color their skin, not just in the business world, but the criminal world as well.
“The Banker” forced me to want to do a bit of history hunting, and take a look in the mirror to realize we still have plenty of work to do in this country when it comes to race relations.