8 Great Heist Films
Your Inner Genius
By Tim Henares
Out of all the genres of film out there, few of them would follow a formula as strict as a heist film: there have to be charismatic rogues we can sympathize with, there has to be a seemingly impossible challenge they want to tackle, and the hurdles they have to go through to get to their objective has to be elaborately complicated. Bonus points for betrayals and an extraction plan that goes horribly awry.
We here at the 8List have recently had a weird hankering for heist films. The fruits of this strange affinity, we now share with you. And, oh. SPOILERS AHEAD!
8. The Italian Job (1969)
The Mastermind: Charlie Croker (Michael Caine), a career Cockney criminal who always thinks he has a “great idea.”
The Haul: 4 Million Dollars
The Plan: Steal the money. Drive like a maniac. Escape to the Swiss Alps.
Did It Work: Sort of.
Forget the remake with Mark Wahlberg and Jason Statham: there’s nothing quite like seeing a young Michael Caine tell his underling “you were only supposed to blow the bloody doors off!” With a plan that directly involves driving like a maniac along the streets of Turin, the fact that the plan is executed almost perfectly would have been great, except for the part where just when they were finally scot-free, their entire take almost falls off a cliff, and we’re left at the end of the film guessing if they can still get it back.
7. Ocean’s 11 (1960)
The Mastermind: Danny Ocean (Frank Sinatra), a charismatic rogue with a heart of gold. Aren’t they all?
The Haul: Millions.
The Plan: Cause a power outage on New Year’s eve. Steal from five Vegas casinos. Escape via garbage truck.
Did It Work: Not quite.
The original Ocean’s 11 doesn’t hold the same high regard the remake does, but it’s still a lesson in ensemble casting, if only for the fact that putting Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis, Jr. on the screen together is a pretty brilliant stroke. The fact that their plan blows up in their faces at the end of the film makes this caper flick just that much more bittersweet.
6. Fast Five
The Mastermind: Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel), a mumbling hunk of muscle and testosterone who can surprisingly formulate a pretty clever plan.
The Haul: 100 Million Dollars.
The Plan: Steal a drug lord’s safe. Drive through the streets of Brazil. Fool the FBI.
Did It Work: To perfection.
The Fast and the Furious franchise officially turned a corner (heh) the minute they turned their films away from being odes to drag racing to high-speed heist flicks. Fast Five was probably their least convoluted scheme, and was all the better for it. Bonus points for pulling one over The Rock, as they managed to switch safes on The Great One while they were in the middle of the tunnel, leaving him to keep watch over an empty hunk of metal while Dom and his “fambly” get away with a hundred million dollars in corrupt people’s money, which makes it totally okay to steal.
5. Ocean’s 11 (2001)
The Mastermind: Danny Ocean (George Clooney), a charismatic rogue with a heart of gold. Wait. Where have we seen this before?
The Haul: 150 Million Dollars in one casino alone (They’re stealing from five.)
The Plan: It requires eleven moving parts. It’s not exactly easy to detail here. But it’s brilliant.
Did It Work: If we pretend the sequels didn’t exist, absolutely.
The art of the heist was elevated to new levels in 2001 when Steven Sodenbergh, he of “A Few Good Men” fame, decided to try his hand at doing a caper film. The result was a remake of the Rat Pack classic that was just miles away superior when compared to the original, a conclusion you’re bound to make if you watched both, back to back. The fact that every single member of Ocean’s crew was integral to their scheme was a product of some tight scripting and savvy casting. Giving the robbery a revenge angle makes it even more compelling.