What would you say if I told that in 1950’s America, before the Civil Rights Movement, there were two Black men that owned real estate and banks in predominantly all-white communities? You would swear the story was the imagination of a Hollywood screenplay writer with an overactive imagination right? Well, not only is it not the figment of someone’s imagination, but a fierce reality centered around the lives of Bernard Garrett and Joe Morris.
Garrett (Anthony Mackie), a self-taught real-estate whiz, who even as a child in small-town Texas, had a father who exclaims to his son regarding his entrepreneurial goals, “You were born the wrong color, son.” A sentiment that was often echoed throughout the Black (or colored – as we were referred to at the time) community suggesting that our skin color will often impair our abilities to live out what was deemed as the ‘American Dream.’
The first step out of shattering this ideology is by aligning himself with a well-established white developer Patrick Barker(Colm Meaney) and later a colorful club owner, Joe Morris (Samuel L. Jackson). The pair would go on to acquire numerous properties in affluent all-white neighborhoods and establish a deal with Barker, who agrees to partner up with them. After Barker passes away, the duo find themselves literally back a ground zero when they cross paths with Matt Steinger (Nicholas Hoult). Taking him through the paces of becoming secure with the math, golf and language skills it takes to navigate with the big boys in the banking establishments. Unfortunately, the results culminate in millions of dollars being gained, lost and reputations being ruined beyond repair moving forward.
This film was originally scheduled to premiere during the 2019 AFI Film Festival and amid controversy was pulled from the lineup, which was unfortunate. It is a fantabulous piece of cinema and I loved The Banker for a variety of reasons and I’m about to share why you will too. It shows Black people as being fashionable, smart and savvy during a time in history where are often not given that positive spotlight. Apple TV plus and George Nolfi are providing audiences with a film proving once again that Black people stories can be more than those revolving and evolving around our race being subservient to the white race. The Banker also shows that Black women are just as savvy if not more as illustrated through the strong, pivotal portrayal of Eunice Garrett in the gorgeous form of Nia Long. Mackie and Jackson have great chemistry and are stellar in their respective roles.
Kudos to Anthony Mackie for producing and sharing this much needed story of two male entrepreneurs that are smart, handsome, savvy Black men who are not incarcerated, disrespecting themselves or their race in order to make their lives and those they love better.
In theaters on March 6th, The Banker begins streaming on Apple TV on March 20th.