8 Great Heist Films

to Inspire

Your Inner Genius

By Tim Henares

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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.

4. Ant Man

The Mastermind: Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), the inventor of the exact thing they’re supposed to steal.

The Haul: Hank Pym’s superpowered self-shrinking suit.

The Plan: Make Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) unwittingly steal the suit. Have Luis (Michael Pena) narrate. Tie in to the Avengers.

Did It Work: Well, you did watch Captain America: Civil War, didn’t you?

When “Winter Soldier” brought in the political thriller with the superhero movie and “Guardians of the Galaxy” did the same with the space opera and the superhero flick, it was only a matter of time before the heist film made its way into this marriage of genres, and Ant-Man is only the first, seeing as “Avengers: Infinity War” looks to be the next. This heist flick is underrated because unlike the rest of the Avengers, Ant-Man seems so small and insignificant ( heh) in comparison. Thankfully, the movie punches well above its weight class to hold its own respectable place in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.


3. Heat

The Mastermind: Neil McCauley (Robert DeNiro), bank robber extraordinaire.

The Haul: 12 Million Dollars.

The Plan: Rob the place. Shoot it out with the cops. Survive. Escape.

Does It Work: C’mon.

Often compared to “The Dark Knight” in terms of the realization that both cop and criminal are trapped in their game of cat and mouse, this film is perhaps one of the best films you can ever watch in this lineup, albeit not the best heist film you can catch. After all, when there isn’t really much of a plan to look forward to seeing executed, all you have going for you are Oscar-worthy performances from Robert DeNiro and Al Pacino at their primes, so that’s nothing shabby to work with.


2. Inception

The Mastermind:  Dominick Cobb (Leonardo Di Caprio), the thief of dreams.

The Haul: Lots of money, and a pardon for a crime Cobb didn’t commit.

The Plan: Implant an idea in the head of a target using the dream world. Fight off the spectre of your dead wife haunting your subconscious. ???. Profit.

Does It Work: Who knows?

Perhaps the most ambitious of all these heist films, Inception takes its premise to its logical conclusion with all the fantastical elements of the dream world, the nature of the mind and imagination, and the sheer questioning of what is real and what is not in perhaps the headiest heist flick of all time. Thankfully, while most of this might go over our heads, the sight of a city folding on itself certainly more than makes up as a TL;DR for the flick.


1. Bad Genius

The Mastermind: Lynn (Chutimon Chuengcharoensukying), a straight A student.

The Haul: Test answers, paid for to the tune of at least 8 Million Baht.

The Plan: Take a standardized test in Australia. Leak the answers to Thailand and capitalize on the 3-hour timezone difference to encode the answers properly. Have students bring honor to their families.

In what has got to be the most Asian heist film ever, Bad Genius turns the most mundane thing ever, taking a frigging test, into a caper filled with heart-pounding suspense. From the initial piano test cheating ring set up by Lynn and inadvertently broken up by Bank to the massive score they pull via STIC, the film really takes you on a wild adventure that resonates with any student who has ever had to cheat or consider cheating on a test just to keep from disappointing their parents.

Here’s hoping a Filipino heist film someday comes along and blows all of our minds. One has to wonder what they would end up stealing, though.


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