Where Have All The Heist Films Gone?
There’s nothing like a good robbery, so long as you’re only watching it. From the silent era onwards we’ve loved watching the fallout from a caper. A proper heist movie has to pull off a complex trick. It needs to make you care about the game-players, keep the stakes high and provide a satisfying outcome, but it should also have a level of ingenuity in the actual robbery.
Among the best capers I’d include ‘Rififi’, ‘The Killing’, ‘The Italian Job’ (original version), ‘The Thomas Crown Affair’ (both versions), ‘$’, ‘How To Make A Million’, ‘Who’s Minding The Mint?’, ‘Robbery’, ‘Inside Man’, ‘Ocean’s 11’, ‘Sexy Beast’, ‘A Fish Called Wanda’, ‘The Usual Suspects’, ‘Lock Stock & Two Smoking Barrels’, ‘Quick Change, ‘A Simple Plan’, ‘The Hot Rock’, ‘Heist’, ‘Layer Cake’, ‘The Pink Panther’, ‘Diamonds’, ‘The Town’ and that Mission Impossible film which nicked its central idea from ‘Diamonds’.
‘The Bank Job’ was a surprisingly decent heist movie involving quite a few true facts, just not in the way they really happened. Jason Statham heads a crew to break into a bank vault, not knowing that he’ll net the contents of a safety deposit box containing compromising photographs of a member of the royal family, thus getting everyone on his case.
And here’s one you won’t have seen; ‘The Greatest Robbery Never Told’ concerns a band of losers who plot to steal Picasso’s ‘Guernica’. The joke here is that the painting is the size of a football pitch and can’t be removed from its frame. So they need a crane, an acrobat, a cyber-geek and one pole-dancer, plus a crazy artist who’ll create an exact duplicate of the original to stand in its place. The look on their faces when they see his replacement painting is priceless (he’s done it in colour because it ‘needed something’), and the climax involves blowing up a jetliner.
The best crime story I’ve read is ‘Out’ by Natsuo Kirino, and although it’s not strictly a heist but about the cover-up of a murder, it has the same guiding principles.