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June 7, 2018 8:20 AM   Subscribe

The 25 Best Heist Movies of All Time

While selecting the 25 best heist films, we leaned heavily on the importance of the heist(s) to the movie’s plot. So, for example, the crime spree itself is perhaps more entertaining in Fantastic Mr. Fox than in the Wes Anderson film we chose, but the former isn’t really thought of as a “heist movie.” Our choices span several decades and aren’t all in English — most are thrillers, although a few are comedies. In some, our anti-heroes prevail — other times, everything goes terribly wrong. But what connects them all is that primal rush of landing the big score. Don’t try any of this at home.
posted by poffin boffin (131 comments total) 97 users marked this as a favorite
 
Last summer I watched The Thomas Crown Affair (1999) twice in a row - once late at night during my shift, and then the next day because my wife hadn't ever seen it - and my god is that a delightful fucking heist. I should watch a couple more of these - I haven't seen many of them, and I often like a good heist.
posted by restless_nomad at 8:28 AM on June 7 [14 favorites]


Like all Internet lists of things. This is bullshit.

HEAT should definitely be much higher up. Easily in the top 5.
posted by Fizz at 8:28 AM on June 7 [15 favorites]


OK, so maybe their set criteria eliminates The Great Muppet Caper, but to go to another Frank Oz vehicle, was I the only one who watched The Score? Brando? De Niro? Ed Norton and Angela Bassett? Anyone?
posted by Capt. Renault at 8:31 AM on June 7 [15 favorites]


I don't usually like to nitpick these sorts of lists, but The Lavender Hill Mob is a huge omission.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 8:35 AM on June 7 [13 favorites]


Oh man, so glad Quick Change got in there. That movie is just about perfect.
posted by gwint at 8:35 AM on June 7 [20 favorites]


Funny that their criticisms of my two favourites The Sting and Heat, basically amounted to 'this is too enjoyable somehow'
posted by Space Coyote at 8:36 AM on June 7


I would also add the opening scene to Dark Knight fwiw.
posted by gwint at 8:38 AM on June 7 [3 favorites]


Sexy Beast should be much higher. one of my all time favs.

where there's a will there's a way, and there is a fucking will
posted by supermedusa at 8:46 AM on June 7 [9 favorites]


Nice to see The Killing on there if nothing else than for the fact that half of the other films on this list have borrowed from it.
posted by octothorpe at 8:52 AM on June 7 [4 favorites]


My favorite moment in The Bank Job, of many favorite moments, is when they fall through their own heist tunnel into a plague pit from the Middle Ages.

It's an incidental detail, and I would imagine actually happened, but it just rings so true. If you do a Google search for plague pit, it seems like you can't dig anywhere in London without finding a hole in the ground with a dozen bodies.
posted by maxsparber at 8:53 AM on June 7 [4 favorites]


Ctrl+F "Bob le Flambeur": nothing

I reject this list on that basis alone.
posted by praemunire at 8:54 AM on June 7 [16 favorites]


Oh my god no. And I know this has been said a million times already but it is so true that it should be said a million more: Inception is a boring, boring piece of overindulgent shit riddled with long expositional monologues and lacking any fucking character development whatsoever. It is an overly long special effects director’s reel rather than actual storytelling, and I hate it. I hate it even more because it feels like its inclusion was obligatory, because it’s Nolan and it was Big. It’s still bad.

*monster noises continue*

The list is only redeemed by the placement of Rififi and The Killing
posted by schadenfrau at 8:54 AM on June 7 [24 favorites]


Nice to see The Killing on there if nothing else than for the fact that half of the other films on this list have borrowed from it.

Tarantino doesn’t have a career without The Killing
posted by schadenfrau at 8:55 AM on June 7 [1 favorite]


Like all Internet lists of things. This is bullshit.

HEAT should definitely be much higher up. Easily in the top 5.


I mean, "...according to the authors' opinion" is pretty obviously implied.
posted by entropone at 8:55 AM on June 7


My favorite moment in The Bank Job,

Oh, I also like that they cast Mick Jagger for, like, three seconds as a bank teller, because every British crime film is in some way a remake of Performance.
posted by maxsparber at 8:56 AM on June 7 [1 favorite]


i love inception and everyone else's hate for it only makes my love burn more wildly

your hate is delicious i feast upon it
posted by poffin boffin at 8:57 AM on June 7 [51 favorites]


Arggggh where's The Asphalt Jungle (John Huston, 1950)? That movie is amazing and is squarely in the heist genre.

Mastermind gets out of prison, plans one last caper, assembles the crack team, heist goes wrong, net closes in. So good. Also it's got (early) Marilyn Monroe in it!
posted by freecellwizard at 8:58 AM on June 7 [6 favorites]


It's not a film, but can I mention that the tv show Leverage once had an episode called The Hot Potato Job where the team had to steal a potato? It was a special GMO potato that was nutirent rich and would aid the fight against world hunger, as long as the Monsanto-analogue evil corporation doesn't steal it first. It's a silly episode of a silly show, but even so.

They steal a potato, you guys.

A potato.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:58 AM on June 7 [33 favorites]


I'm laid up for a few days after a nasty bike wreck. This list might come in handy!
posted by slogger at 9:01 AM on June 7


Two Kevin Spacey films. Man, fuck him, he was so good in the Usual Suspects and now I can't stomach watching him. Well I can but it's a grim experience; Baby Driver was really hard. Watch Kevin Spacey groom a handsome young man and then exploit him! Oof.
posted by Nelson at 9:02 AM on June 7 [14 favorites]


5. Inception

they misspelled "Topkapi"
posted by Orange Dinosaur Slide at 9:08 AM on June 7 [12 favorites]


+1 for Quick Change, which I agree is Bill Murray’s best film and a glittering comedic gem.

+1 for The Italian Job (Michael Caine version) which is, indeed, snazzy and schmoove as hell.

-1 for Reservoir Dogs, which I also agree is way talky and self-absorbed (and self-indulgent, and overrated, and...)
posted by darkstar at 9:18 AM on June 7 [7 favorites]


Logan Lucky is a fantastic movie. If you read this list and haven't seen it, seek it out and thank me later.
posted by vibrotronica at 9:19 AM on June 7 [11 favorites]


I tried very hard to watch the original O11 a while back and it was Not Good. Like aggressively not good, bordering on a level of terribility that was angering.
posted by poffin boffin at 9:26 AM on June 7 [7 favorites]


It's missing Topkapi and The Doberman Gang.
posted by cazoo at 9:26 AM on June 7 [2 favorites]


There are several films on this list that i would replace in favor of David Mamet's "Heist". The cast, Delroy Lindo, Ricky Jay, Rebecca Pidgeon, Sam Rockwell, and of course Gene Hackman, do a superb job with Mamet's dialogue style, and the ending is a great noir twist.
posted by OHenryPacey at 9:27 AM on June 7 [8 favorites]


I don't care how they're ranked. I like all of these enough to watch them any time they're on. And I love many of them.
posted by Caxton1476 at 9:29 AM on June 7 [3 favorites]


I remember renting Quick Change in the early nineties and being baffled that there was a Bill Murray that good that no one had ever heard of. Glad to see it getting some belated attention.
posted by octothorpe at 9:33 AM on June 7 [3 favorites]


A number of these don't seem to be heist movies.
posted by kyrademon at 9:35 AM on June 7 [6 favorites]


I tried very hard to watch the original O11 a while back and it was Not Good. Like aggressively not good, bordering on a level of terribility that was angering.

I remember watching it with some friends because we all liked the newer ones a lot, and being super turned off by some major league racism in it. I don't even remember the details now, just the feeling.
posted by kmz at 9:36 AM on June 7


It's a decent list. Certainly ones I'd want to add (Bound), but perhaps not so many that I'd want to take away.

Interesting though that it's so modern. It's also noticably missing some of the more goofy ones from the 60s and 70s (e.g., the Great Train Robbery). Perhaps good heist movies have to be Serious Business.
posted by bonehead at 9:37 AM on June 7 [2 favorites]


No Charley Varrick? BOO.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:38 AM on June 7 [8 favorites]


Nthing gwint and octothorpe, Quick Change is a criminally underrated movie.
posted by mcstayinskool at 9:38 AM on June 7 [5 favorites]


Time Bandits
posted by Slothrup at 9:40 AM on June 7 [34 favorites]


I think Charley Varrick is missing the qualities of the other heist movies -- the getting the gang together and making a plan. Almost all of the film is post-robbery, when they are trying to escape the inevitable conclusion to their scheme.

It's a great film, as is The Friends of Eddie Coyle and Straight Time, but cynical bank robbery films aren't quite heist movies.
posted by maxsparber at 9:41 AM on June 7 [2 favorites]


Inception? Baby Driver? Fast Five? The Bank Job? Italian Job?

These movies are boring poo and this list is bullshit indeed.

Where's Le Cercle Rouge? Asphalt Jungle? The Getaway? Hell, even Sneakers is preferable to that dreck.
posted by dobbs at 9:46 AM on June 7 [6 favorites]


But but but The Brinks Job!
posted by rmd1023 at 9:51 AM on June 7 [2 favorites]


This is a great starter list. Ignore any pretensions to ordering, they’re all pretty damn good (though no “Circle Rouge” is pretty monumentally boneheaded.)
posted by From Bklyn at 9:51 AM on June 7 [1 favorite]


I think Charley Varrick is missing the qualities of the other heist movies

I will be contacting Joe Don Baker shortly and you can discuss it with him.

(To be honest, I would probably complain about Charley Varrick's absence from any list of any genre. It's zany enough that The Beguiled & Dirty Harry came out the same year, but then to follow it with Charley Varrick? What a hat trick for Siegel.)
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:51 AM on June 7 [1 favorite]


The Bank Job?

I didn't find it boring "poo", but I think knowing that The Bank Job was based on the real life Baker Street Robbery alone makes it not in the same category as the other ones you mention.
posted by mcstayinskool at 9:52 AM on June 7 [2 favorites]


Your favourite heist film sucks.

I was looking for Sneakers on the list.
posted by terrapin at 9:52 AM on June 7 [16 favorites]


The Apple Dumpling Gang will never get the credit it deserves, lol
posted by Chuffy at 9:54 AM on June 7 [8 favorites]


It's almost as if people have different tastes and preferences.
posted by howfar at 9:56 AM on June 7 [8 favorites]


Imma let you finish, but Lupin III and his gang stole Rio de Janeiro’s Christ The Redeemer statue as part of their getaway from a heist of a soccer stadium.
posted by rodlymight at 10:00 AM on June 7 [7 favorites]


If your favorite heist film isn't on that list, try this one. (Although it is missing Time Bandits as well)

This typo in the Dog Day Afternoon entry:
...seriously, robbing a band isn’t nearly as easy as it seems in the movies.
made me think of this. Which was apparently a successful heist.
posted by TedW at 10:01 AM on June 7 [2 favorites]


Hell, even Sneakers is preferable to that dreck.

HACK THE PLANET
posted by GuyZero at 10:01 AM on June 7 [5 favorites]


meanwhile where is national treasure
posted by poffin boffin at 10:08 AM on June 7 [8 favorites]


I demand nueve reinas or else
posted by epj at 10:17 AM on June 7 [2 favorites]


It’s #31 on the Rotten Tomatoes list; TedW has spared you all from a terrible fate.

Sorry, poffinboffin, I gave up before the last page. National Treasure may yet feature.
posted by epj at 10:21 AM on June 7


One of the great things about Quick Change that often goes unnoticed is that Bill Murray's thief character Grimm and his nemesis, Jason Robards's police chief Rotzinger, aren't entirely dissimilar. Both characters, separately, comment on the way that progress is tearing down old New York City buildings to make way for things that may be bigger, but aren't necessarily better. They both mourn for the loss of the old character of the city. They're also both city employees. Under different circumstances, they might get along.

Keep an eye out for cameos from Phil Hartman and Tony Shaloub.
Chief Rotzinger [negotiating for the release of hostages]: At least give me the women.

Grimm: Get your own women!
posted by Servo5678 at 10:22 AM on June 7 [2 favorites]


> Sexy Beast should be much higher. one of my all time favs.

* SEXY BEAST SPOILERS *

I *love* Sexy Beast, and although I haven't seen it in 10+ years, I always felt like the movie was something of a metaphor for battling self-destructive tendencies. Gal has finally found love and happiness with his wife, but whoops, here's Don Logan (an old but now toxic friend) and a demonic rabbit (which clearly wants him dead or at least unhappy) dragging him back into his old life against his will. Don (the friend, external influence) gets killed by another friend in a similar position in life, but he still has to travel back to London, which is presented as a sort of underworld (in both senses of the word) Gal has to travel through and survive one last time in order to lay these habits to rest once and for all. The last shot of the angry rabbit and sardonic Don buried deep below the earth, still "alive" but neutralized and of no threat to Gal's well-being, shows that they will always be aspects of his personality but that he has conquered their negative influences and can now be truly happy.

Yes, my undergrad was in Film Studies. It's also just a fucking awesome British gangster movie.
posted by The Card Cheat at 10:25 AM on June 7 [4 favorites]


HACK THE PLANET

...is from Hackers, not Sneakers...
posted by Sangermaine at 10:26 AM on June 7 [4 favorites]


SNEAK THE PLANET
posted by rodlymight at 10:32 AM on June 7 [16 favorites]


No love for Malcolm?
posted by GenjiandProust at 10:43 AM on June 7 [3 favorites]


I've always put movie heists in one of two categories: jobs using guns and jobs using stealth. Both kinds aim for tension, but of two very different flavors.

Also, when one thinks of heists, one generally thinks of meticulous planning. In which case, "Heat" definitely qualifies and "Dog Day Afternoon" (which is still an awesome film) doesn't.
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 10:47 AM on June 7 [4 favorites]


Can we talk about the fact that the title for Inside Man is essentially a dad-joke level pun?
posted by dephlogisticated at 10:49 AM on June 7 [8 favorites]


Quick Change also had Bob Elliott as a bank guard who had this priceless exchange with Murray (disguised as a clown with a bomb strapped to himself)

Bob: What the hell kind of clown are you?
Murray: The crying on the inside kind, I guess
posted by Ber at 10:54 AM on June 7 [7 favorites]


There are several films on this list that i would replace in favor of David Mamet's "Heist".

Perhaps the single best line in cinema history:
"Everybody needs money. That's why they call it money."
posted by Etrigan at 10:57 AM on June 7 [10 favorites]


command+F "Rafifi"

Not found

Closes laptop, screams
posted by Automocar at 11:00 AM on June 7


Rest easy. Rififi is at #3, Automocar.
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 11:27 AM on June 7 [5 favorites]


How is Die Hard not on this list?
posted by Sphinx at 11:31 AM on June 7


John Dortmunder sighs heavily at this list.
posted by The otter lady at 11:33 AM on June 7 [5 favorites]


I really liked The Anderson Tapes.
posted by ph00dz at 11:34 AM on June 7 [2 favorites]


All internet lists are flawed, but omitting Topkapi is like omitting Godfather 2 from a list called "The Five Best Movies Featuring John Cazale."
posted by The World Famous at 11:39 AM on June 7 [6 favorites]


How is Die Hard not on this list?

Because, obviously, it's a Christmas movie, and movies can be in only one category.
posted by achrise at 11:50 AM on June 7 [22 favorites]


No Hell Or High Water?
posted by the man of twists and turns at 11:56 AM on June 7 [3 favorites]


> maybe their set criteria eliminates The Great Muppet Caper

What? No! How can it not be considered a heist movie? It's in the damn title.
posted by ardgedee at 12:04 PM on June 7


The Asphalt Jungle (1950) is the archetypal heist film. It's earlier than (and thus probably influenced) everything on the list. Omitting it makes the authors look like hacks.
posted by demonic winged headgear at 12:05 PM on June 7 [2 favorites]


The Silent Partner with Elliott Gould, Christopher Plummer and Susannah York is a pretty solid and enjoyable heist film as I remember.
posted by octothorpe at 12:06 PM on June 7 [3 favorites]


"The Asphalt Jungle (1950) is the archetypal heist film. It's earlier than (and thus probably influenced) everything on the list. Omitting it makes the authors look like hacks."'

It is Grierson and Leitch. The definition of a coupla hacks, in my book. These are not real film critics, but more like 'culture' commentators who comment on film. The difference between Ebert and Roeper.
posted by indianbadger1 at 12:12 PM on June 7


Yeah, I'm kind of assuming that omitting Topkapi is meant to be some sort of weird joke or troll or something.
posted by holborne at 12:19 PM on June 7 [1 favorite]


It seems to me that the heist film requires two essential elements: the Team and the Plan. The plot proceeds as: (a) introduce Team (b) discuss Plan (c) execute Plan (d) unexpected obstacle (e) overcome obstacle and complete Plan and (optional third element f) Double-Cross.

The Plan doesn't have to be a crime, although I'm blanking on an example right now. But all the Mission: Impossible movies are heists with extra explosions, and The Great Escape is a heist where the object being stolen is the prisoners executing the heist themselves.

Dog Day Afternoon stands out as a non-heist, because they have no plan: a stick-up is not a heist. I haven't seen Bonnie and Clyde, but do they plan anything beyond "point gun, get money"? Other than those two, the rest (those I've seen) seem like solid examples even if there were other choices possible.
posted by five toed sloth at 12:20 PM on June 7 [9 favorites]


This is a perfect list, in that it hits at some great ones, even a few underappreciated great ones, but misses such obvious BANGERS that it is baffling and contemptible, and so it is an object of both interest and scorn. Count me in!

For me the most obvious missing is The Getaway, but I'm pretty amazed that The Brinks Job isn't on there.

I am pleased that Logan Lucky WAS included - I think it was charming and underappreciated. It's way better than any of the Oceans movies.
posted by dirtdirt at 12:20 PM on June 7 [4 favorites]


The Silent Partner with Elliott Gould, Christopher Plummer and Susannah York is a pretty solid and enjoyable heist film as I remember.

The Silent Partner is, without question, one of the weirdest pictures I've ever seen, and the murder scene (yeah, there's more than one murder, but if you've seen the picture, you know which murder scene I'm talking about) is one of the most disturbing scenes ever in movies, and I say that without a trace of hyperbole.
posted by holborne at 12:21 PM on June 7 [3 favorites]




What? No! How can it not be considered a heist movie? It's in the damn title.

Wait, it’s not about a gigantic salted and pickled bud who is also a muppet? It’s about a heist?
posted by GenjiandProust at 12:43 PM on June 7 [2 favorites]


I mean these are all movies that I like and that I think other people would probably also enjoy.

Dog Day Afternoon and Bonnie and Clyde both stand out to me as being a category above pretty much anything else on this list, but that also might be unfair because despite involving outlaw types, they're not really genre films of any kind, let alone heist movies specifically.

Also I think Inception would have been excellent if Terry Gilliam had made it. Nolan movies always strike me as being SO CLOSE to things I would love. Great concepts and ideas but he just plays them so dry.
posted by Phobos the Space Potato at 12:45 PM on June 7 [1 favorite]




I think for it to be a heist movie the heist has to be in the final act, or every single film with a bank robbery is a heist, in which case Batman and The Joker or whatever it was called would need to be on this list.
posted by maxsparber at 1:02 PM on June 7 [1 favorite]


What, no Rogue One?!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:28 PM on June 7 [11 favorites]


+10 for The Sting which tbh I mostly remember loving the clothes they wore
posted by lazaruslong at 1:47 PM on June 7 [3 favorites]


Can we talk about the fact that the title for Inside Man is essentially a dad-joke level pun?

Inside Man is an enjoyable movie, but I have no idea why Spike Lee thought it was a good idea to have Chaiyya Chaiyya (a really great Bollywood tune that I love) as its theme music.

What? No! How can it not be considered a heist movie? It's in the damn title.

Wait, it’s not about a gigantic salted and pickled bud who is also a muppet? It’s about a heist?


To be fair to the list compiler, the movie centers around the Muppets who foiled a heist, rather than making the perpetrators' story the central plot.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:47 PM on June 7


Can a heist be two person team? I love Michael Caine in everything and "Flawless" with Demi Moore is a good popcorn movie.
posted by tipsyBumblebee at 1:50 PM on June 7 [1 favorite]


For however much any list reflects the personal tastes of its compiler, I agree with the posters who comment that many of the films here aren't really heist films.

Reservoir Dogs is not a heist movie, it's about the aftermath of a heist gone wrong. Otherwise, Before The Devil Knows You're Dead should be there, definitely higher up. But it doesn't, because it's not a heist movie.

Likewise, Dog Day Afternoon is not a heist movie. It's a stickup-gone-reality-TV movie. Same with Bonnie and Clyde. Why not Public Enemy Number 1?

But yes, Mamet's Heist is a big oversight.

Etrigan:
Perhaps the single best line in cinema history:
"Everybody needs money. That's why they call it money."


I came here to post this. Mamet's dialog, but Danny de Vito's delivery too.
posted by kandinski at 1:53 PM on June 7 [1 favorite]


Duplicity should be on there too.
posted by the duck by the oboe at 2:00 PM on June 7


I had fun watching Baby Driver but it's not a heist. It pretends to be a heist movie for a while but you never actually get any heist.

I really need to watch Logan Lucky, it's been on my list for a while.
posted by PussKillian at 2:01 PM on June 7 [1 favorite]


Duplicity was really underrated, especially Julia Roberts's performance. I think that downer of an ending killed it.
posted by praemunire at 2:02 PM on June 7


Just started reading the list and this jumped out at me:

"The heist itself in Ronin is sort of beside the point, or at least the case of money they’re all trying to steal is" (bold mine)

What!?

But yes, Mamet's Heist is a big oversight.

No kidding. That's huge. Also, 14-year-old-me is raging at the injustice of the absense of The Real McCoy.
posted by ODiV at 2:15 PM on June 7 [1 favorite]


Ricky Jay is so great in Heist. If you haven't seen it, go do that.
posted by ODiV at 2:21 PM on June 7 [2 favorites]


It's probably too late for that list, but Ocean's 8 was wonderful, and even dealt with the aftermath more than most other Ocean's movies.
posted by numaner at 2:27 PM on June 7


No Kelly's Heroes? I mean, it's a bit close to Italian Job (Troy Kennedy Martin kinda recycles Donald Sutherland's lines, if you look too closely) but it's seriously fun.

Also I think Inception would have been excellent if Terry Gilliam had made it. Nolan movies always strike me as being SO CLOSE to things I would love. Great concepts and ideas but he just plays them so dry.

This. It's the earnestness and fear of obliqueness that takes all the flavour out of them. Nolan's films have the soul of a Powerpoint presentation, one that's very long and filled with stock animation in case you get bored.
posted by Devonian at 2:33 PM on June 7 [4 favorites]


How is Die Hard not on this list?

Interesting. I usually don't classify a movie as a heist movie unless the thieves are the protagonists.
posted by Ragged Richard at 3:04 PM on June 7 [5 favorites]


There's a couple of movies on this list that I will have to check out, because wow I looooove heist movies.

Some odd omissions though, as others have mentioned, also odd that they mention The Thomas Crowne Affair but don't include it on their list? (The new one is one of my top faves.) In particular The Score is so good, ditto Flawless.

And it's an interesting question about categories, whether it's really a heist movie if the thieves aren't the protagonists. (Die Hard, Point Break (double taxonomy question: are hold-up movies heist movies?), Taking of Pelham 123, etc) Personally I lean towards yes, and for the hold-up question, only if it feels like the robberies have a relatively complicated plan.
posted by epersonae at 3:45 PM on June 7


For years Amazon told me that I'd like "Bob le Flambeur". I told Amazon that I really wasn't fond of heist movies. Finally I caved and watched it. Amazon was right.

It should have been on this list.
posted by acrasis at 3:57 PM on June 7 [3 favorites]


Yeah, having Three Kings, but not Kelly's Heroes makes this list an objective wrongness.
posted by pompomtom at 4:31 PM on June 7 [4 favorites]


No Kelly's Heroes? I mean, it's a bit close to Italian Job (Troy Kennedy Martin kinda recycles Donald Sutherland's lines, if you look too closely) but it's seriously fun.

True although I consider Kelly's Heroes the best b-war movie ever but yeah, it can be considered a helluva heist. I like to skip the minefield because sheesh, it kills the tone of the movie. Fortunately we have Donald Sutherland riffing with Gavin MacLeod to save that.

Oddball: Why don't you knock it off with them negative waves? Why don't you dig how beautiful it is out here? Why don't you say something righteous and hopeful for a change?

Moriarty: Crap!
posted by Ber at 4:54 PM on June 7 [1 favorite]


Yeah, Three Kings is not really a heist movie, either. The previews made it out to be, and the first act of the film pretends that's what it's going to be, but the heist is at most a pretextual vehicle for a hackneyed morality play set in such of-its-time terms that it has not aged well at all.
posted by The World Famous at 4:54 PM on June 7


Duplicity was really underrated, especially Julia Roberts's performance. I think that downer of an ending killed it.

The downbeat ending was what made it work so well for me. You think it's one heist but it turns out to be another one. And it retrospectively explains the gloriously demented opening credits sequence.
posted by the duck by the oboe at 5:27 PM on June 7


The heist movie: where a gang of misfits contrive to separate a payload from its legal authority.

So the best one it in fact The Wicker Man (1973).
posted by elephantday at 5:37 PM on June 7 [4 favorites]


This post has made me think about what does and does not constitute a heist movie, with the result that I spent an inordinate amount of time wondering whether Rogue One was a heist movie, and deciding that it wasn't one, mainly because the team is not selected for particular skills so much as randomly accumulated and the heist is not the result of a carefully executed plan but rather pretty much improvisation. (Star Wars itself is not a heist movie for similar reasons; however, I think the "Jabba's Palace / Sail Barge" portion of Return of the Jedi counts as a heist, although the rest of the movie, even though it has some heist-like qualities, really doesn't qualify.) Moving on to other movies, I'd say that Hudson Hawk is a ... is ... Hudson Hawk is a ...

What IS Hudson Hawk?
posted by kyrademon at 5:53 PM on June 7 [2 favorites]


The Getaway (1972) Steve McQueen on a bank job gone wrong. Jim Thompson's original novel had a wierd ending not in the film.

Thunderbolt and Lightfoot (1974) is good if you like Clint robbing a bank with some quirks.

Another nod to Bob le Flambleur, if you're okay with B&W/subtitles, it's fascinating with some swell plot twists!

Carlto's Way (1993) is not a heist movie, but it shares the heist trope of a weatherbeaten protagonist trying to squeeze in one last gig before the walls finally close in.
posted by ovvl at 6:04 PM on June 7 [1 favorite]


"Bandits" with Bruce Willis, Billy Bob Thornton & Cate Blanchett
posted by Mesaverdian at 6:06 PM on June 7 [3 favorites]


I disagree with this list a lot but understand what the list-maker was thinking, so I don’t feel like it’s worth my effort to quibble other than to say that Logan Lucky is the best of any of Soderbergh’s heist films and should be rated higher than the others.
posted by invitapriore at 6:20 PM on June 7


Also to plagiarize myself from elsewhere: I thought I hated it for the longest time but actually Inception is the most perfect expression of late capitalism possible. you know dreams, that private domain of which we are each our own sovereign, that place where imagination exceeds the boundaries of all that is possible in ways that escape articulation? turns out it’s all just spiffy suits and corporate espionage and gunplay in sterile cityscapes, and, oh yeah, DEADLINES
posted by invitapriore at 6:23 PM on June 7


Join FanFare's Heist Movie Club and argue about this ridiculous list there, too!
posted by MoonOrb at 6:24 PM on June 7 [1 favorite]


It's only just now occurring to me that the "You were only supposed to blow the bloody doors off!" scene in The Italian Job and the "Think you used enough dynamite?" scene in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid are pmuch the same scene just with a train vs a car. Was that on purpose?
posted by lazaruslong at 6:28 PM on June 7 [1 favorite]


I’m probably the only person who even watched The Big Hit but to me it’s the best kind of over the top goofball satire of a heist film that also glorifies its subject. I was hoping to see it get some love in this thread.

It helped that the first time I saw it I was stoned on an overnight bus from Guadalajara to Manzanilla. It looked like it was just the kind of low brow B movie standard action film someone who didn’t care just popped into the VCR as we pulled out of Guadalajara. But as the movie progressed it went weirder and funnier and it actually took me about 1/3 of the movie to realize it was a satire.

Mark Wahlberg plays a neurotic ex con man (Melvin Smiley) trying to play it straight but finds the desperate boredom and isolation of the suburban working man, hen pecked by his obnoxious wife (Christina Applegate) too much to bear and he’s recruited by a group of old thugs (Lou Diamond Phillips and all the other actors you’d expect) to kidnap for ransom the daughter of a big time crime boss. There’s double crosses, inept people way in over their depth, and hilarious Three’s Company style gags while Smiley tries to hide his crime (and kidnap victim) and look normal for his family (whose in laws drop in for an unexpected stay). Of course he falls in love with the kidnap victim because really he’s just a nice guy trying to do right by everyone. The whole thing ends with probably the funniest car chase I’ve ever seen.

I assure you I have since watched this movie sober and still find it dumb and delightful.

Because one of the most important characteristics of a good heist film — it’s got to be fun.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 7:42 PM on June 7 [3 favorites]


The Blues Brothers has all the elements of a heist movie too, except the initial crime is Elwood driving on a suspended license, and the final act is the team trying to pay a tax bill on time.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 8:50 PM on June 7


Ferris Bueller's Day Off is also a heist movie where the only crime is having a good time and maybe stealing a car
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 8:54 PM on June 7


What IS Hudson Hawk?

Awesome!
posted by Gorgik at 8:57 PM on June 7 [2 favorites]


Based on this thread, I just watched Logan Lucky, and definitely agree it should be included.

Totally agree with the addition of Kelly’s Heroes to the list, too!

Quick Change remains one of only three movies that literally made me fall out of my chair and roll on the floor laughing when I first rented it. Funny from the very first words spoken in the movie... (”Clowns welcome.”)
posted by darkstar at 9:11 PM on June 7 [1 favorite]


The downbeat ending was what made it work so well for me.

I didn't hate it, but I do think it had a negative effect on the box office and the warmth or lack thereof with which it is remembered.
posted by praemunire at 9:25 PM on June 7


I tried very hard to watch the original O11 a while back and it was Not Good. Like aggressively not good, bordering on a level of terribility that was angering.

Yeah, I had the same experience.

Also, I think 1949's Criss Cross is better than numerous entries here, but that seems to be a minority opinion.
posted by Palindromedary at 9:33 PM on June 7


Ctrl + F "Thief"

No results. Seriously, it's just one word but a heist is implied in the title. Such an underrated film. Prime Michael Mann.
posted by zardoz at 9:56 PM on June 7 [2 favorites]


Surely no list of the most noteworthy cinematic capers is complete without Pain and Gain.

Also Time Bandits? Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure? Maybe not "heists" so much as a "romps..."
posted by Phobos the Space Potato at 10:13 PM on June 7


What? No Great Train Robbery? Edwin S Porter was robbed!
posted by mwhybark at 10:57 PM on June 7


The list seems to get a little confused between Heist movies and Caper movies. Bonnie and Clyde might be a Heist movie, but it ain't a Caper. Aside from Topkapi, Lavender Hill Mob, and others mentioned above, The League Of Gentlemen (1960) is one of the great Caper movies of all time: ex-Army officers with a grievance against the Army plan a robbery with military precision, sort of like Ocean's Rat Pack, only better.
posted by CCBC at 10:57 PM on June 7 [1 favorite]


Any number can win (Mélodie en sous-sol), a French caper from 1963 with Jean Gabin and Alain Delon. Here's the final scene (this is infortunately the colorized version).
posted by elgilito at 2:51 AM on June 8


Fargo? Bound? Fury Road???
posted by markbrendanawitzmissesus at 3:55 AM on June 8


I’m late but can’t resist! The gorgeous Argentine film, Nine Queens. I’m a fool for an art heist — The Best Offer with Geoffrey Rush and Donald Sutherland.
posted by lemon_icing at 4:20 AM on June 8 [3 favorites]


Ctrl + F "Thief"

No results. Seriously, it's just one word but a heist is implied in the title. Such an underrated film. Prime Michael Mann.


Heat always seems to get picked over Thief on these lists.

[spoiler] - A friend of mine lived on the street where they filmed the big house explosion. They had their own "you're only supposed to blow the bloody doors off" moment when they overdid it with the charges, blew out every window on the street and had to pay to replace them all.

I might argue that Where Eagles Dare is kind of a heist movie. Not to mention Kelly's Heroes.
posted by lagomorphius at 5:45 AM on June 8 [3 favorites]


I've always put movie heists in one of two categories: jobs using guns and jobs using stealth. Both kinds aim for tension, but of two very different flavors.

They do both in Heat.

Kelso: It's a bank, the depot's cash for distribution on Thursdays to the other branches to cover Friday's payroll checks so on Thursday's the command branch has got a full whack.
Neil McCauley: On the prowl or strong?
Kelso: Strong through the front door
Neil McCauley: How many guys?
Kelso: Four or three plus a driver, you walk in you knock the guards over and you walk out.
posted by kirkaracha at 7:52 AM on June 8 [1 favorite]


Ant Man. Come at me.
posted by DrAstroZoom at 8:52 AM on June 8 [5 favorites]


Fargo?

I would argue that one of the key elements of a heist film is that the audience is rooting for the thieves. In Fargo, we're on Marge Gunderson's side all the way.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 9:31 AM on June 8 [1 favorite]


I would say they're either rooting for the thieves and/or rooting against the person being stolen from. I think the remake of the Italian Job was definitely about having Ed Norton's character get his comeuppance.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:09 AM on June 8 [2 favorites]


The Wild Bunch If you want two heists (one bank and one train) crossed with a western along the US/Mexico border and two gang leaders that flip flop between protagonist and antagonist.
posted by achrise at 8:42 AM on June 10


indianbadger1: "It is Grierson and Leitch. The definition of a coupla hacks, in my book. These are not real film critics, but more like 'culture' commentators who comment on film. The difference between Ebert and Roeper."

Considering how far off Ebert often was (Phantom Menace: 3.5/4 stars), I'm not sure that invalidates Grierson & Leitch's observations.
posted by Chrysostom at 6:46 PM on June 10


If robbery movies aren't considered heist movies, then The Sting doesn't belong on this list, either. That movie is a con movie more than a heist movie.
posted by Chuffy at 8:36 AM on June 11


How do you separate a heist from a con when the outcome of a long con is usually pretty heistlike, though.
posted by poffin boffin at 9:01 AM on June 11


I nearly didn't bother reading this list when I saw it left out Mamet's 'Heist' and yet included a Fast & Furious movie. I'm glad I persevered because beside some films I greatly enjoyed (A Fish Called Wanda, The Bank Job, Heat, The Usual Suspects, Inside Man), it contained a couple I hugely admire (The Italian Job & Jackie Brown) and two I consider, at least on their own terms, magnificent (Ronin & Sexy Beast).

The Card Cheat, I'd argue that in much the same way that that Sexy Beast externalises Gal's internal battles, it makes overt the implicit homoeroticism of the British Hard Man Gangster trope. It's a film which turns the volume up on that which is normally quiet, in the same way that Ray Winstone and Ian McShane played against type.
posted by Busy Old Fool at 5:38 AM on June 14


How do you separate a heist from a con when the outcome of a long con is usually pretty heistlike, though.

Generally speaking, if the mark gives you the thing, it's a con; if you take the thing, it's a heist. There's some overlap -- obviously, it's a heist if you have a gun in someone's face when they "give" you the thing. But there's some aspect of willingly handing over in a con.
posted by Etrigan at 6:32 AM on June 14 [1 favorite]


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