“Our problem is take the bank or split right now, do not go home, do not pack, nothing. 30 secs flat from now we are gone on our separate ways, that’s it…” – HEAT
Who doesn’t love a good heist movie? There is something thrilling about watching con-men (on screen at least) attempt to pull off a perfectly executed plot to rob a major institution. Sometimes they succeed and other times they fail. The best heist movies offer more than just action and robbery; they offer an insight into the minds of the criminal, the paranoia that ensues or the conflict with other criminals or the authorities chasing them. Here is a list of some of the best heist movies of modern times…
10. Point Break (1991)
Ignore Keanu Reeves’s crappy acting and this is actually a thrilling ride from beginning to end. The late Patrick Swayze plays Bodhi, a surfer/leader of a group of bank robbers who don ex-Presidents’ masks during their heists. Reeves plays FBI Agent Johnny Utah who goes undercover to track down the robbers, but gets drawn in by Bodhi’s charismatic personality and finds himself conflicted between his duty and his friendship.
9. Ocean’s Eleven (2001)
Before Hollywood ruined things (as always) by making the next two instalments, Ocean’s Eleven was an entertaining heist movie. Ocean’s ensemble cast of George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, and half of Hollywood, star in a movie about a plot to pull off the perfect act of thievery against one of the most secure institutions in the world: a casino.
8. Thief (1981)
James Caan stars in this Michael Mann neo-noir classic about a jewel-thief who lives by a set structure of rules. Caan’s character, Frank Homiher, is looking for an escape out of his criminal life after pulling off a big heist. When he gets offered to execute a major diamond heist by a Chicago gangster, Frank is soon thrown into conflict with the man who hired him for the plot.
7. Die Hard (1988)
Many people forget that the original Die Hard was a heist movie as much as an action movie that gave us the phrase “Yippee Ki-yay”. Die Hard is one of the most entertaining movies on this list due its explosive action scenes. Bruce Willis stars as Detective McClane, attempting to investigate a group of criminals who are using the guise of terrorism to pull off a major heist.
6. Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels (1998)
The movie that made Guy Ritchie famous (his debut film) and turned Jason Statham into a renowned movie star. This quirky, smart film is the story of a cocky card player who loses a bet to a crime boss and must rob another gang to pay off his debt. Footballer turned actor Vinnie Jones plays Big Chris, a gang enforcer who uses gratuitous violence and hates when people swear around his son.
5. Ronin (1998)
A mismatched group of former intelligence agents and soldiers come together to steal a special briefcase protected by an armed convoy. Robert De Niro, Jean Reno and Stellan Skarsgard star in this thrilling movie that offers some of the best car chase scenes ever, through the winding, stony streets of Nice, France.
4. Sexy Beast (2000)
Ben Kingsley, Ian McShane and Ray Winstone star in this often underrated heist movie about a mobster (Kingsley) who uses coercion to hire a retired safe-cracker (Winstone) to execute “one last job”: a major bank heist. Sexy Beast is a magnificent movie with masterful acting performances by Kingsley and McShane.
3. The Town (2010)
The Town stars Ben Affleck and Jeremy Renner as two childhood friends who pull off bank robberies for a local Boston mobster. When Affleck’s character begins to develop feelings for one of his robbery victims, things begin to get complicated for the crew. Although some people would argue against its place this high on the list, The Town offers some of the best and most thrilling robbery scenes in film history. The two that stand out best are the “nun” scene- the group attempts to rob an armoured money truck dressed up as nuns – and the climactic Fenway Park robbery that goes afoul.
2. Reservoir Dogs (1992)
The cult-hit movie that first introduced us to Quentin Tarantino. Reservoir Dogs is a heist movie that never actually shows the heist. Eight men, using various colourful aliases, are brought together to commit a jewel heist. The heist goes horribly wrong and the group-members quickly begin to suspect that each of the others betrayed them. A perfect mix of suspense and paranoia, Reservoir Dogs offers the unique style and extreme violence that have since become the trademark of Tarantino.
1. Heat (1995)
Michael Mann’s now classic movie starring Robert De Niro and Al Pacino (reunited for the first time since The Godfather II) as two men on opposite sides of the law. De Niro plays the leader of a group of criminals who carry out major armoured car and bank robberies. When Lt. Hanna (Pacino) begins to track down the group, a dangerous game of cat and mouse ensues that pits two of the best actors ever against each other. The film offers the perfect mix of spectacular action and great acting, and is truly one of the best heist movies of all time.