Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Weekly Top 5: Top 5 Heist Movies

To those who read the update on the "Film Crazy" facebook page (and to those who didn't know there was a facebook page for Film Crazy, go "like" it today!), I'm going to start doing a weekly "Top 5" feature on the site. Usually these lists will be inspired by films in theaters at the moment, so the inspiration for this debut "Top 5" list is the new heist film Flypaper starring Patrick Dempsey and Rob Huebel. The film is going to be playing at my local independent theater starting next weekend, so hopefully I'll have a review for it up onto the site soon.

The rules for this list were very simple: The film had to involve, or circle around a heist. Any film that followed this rule was an open choice. So without further ado, here are my top 5 heist movies of all time...

5. The Town (USA, 2010)

Directed by Ben Affleck, The Town was one of my favorite films to come out last year, and for a good reason. Jeremy Renner received a well deserved Oscar nomination for supporting actor for his work as Ben Affleck's (who also starred in the film) metaphorical brother along with best friend. The film circles around a sect of the Boston mafia which specializes in bank robberies. While I do not want to spoil too much of the film here, as in most heist films, something horrible goes wrong during the heist, and the perpetrators have to figure out a way to get past it whatever the consequences might be. The film contains great performances, great emotion, and an absolutely incredible final heist scene, which is why it is number five on this list.

4. Reservoir Dogs (USA, 1992)

While I may not have fallen in love with Reservoir Dogs like nearly everybody else, there's no denying the fact that it's truly a great movie. Reservoir Dogs redefined the use of violence in film, along with redefining the modern heist film. While Tim Roth's performance in this film has always bugged me, the rest of the cast is spot on, and so is Quentin Tarantino's direction. While I'll admit I can never sit through the entire "Stuck in the Middle With You" scene (and if you've seen the film you'll know exactly what I'm talking about), Reservoir Dogs is number four on this list.

3. The Killing (United Kingdom, 1956)

It's hard to talk about Quentin Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs without bringing up Stanley Kubrick's early film noir The Killing. At a Q&A with the 2010 Live Action Short Film winner Luke Matheny, he told the audience: "genius is determined by how obscure your inspirations are". Well, if more people saw The Killing, Quentin Tarantino would receive a whole lot less acclaim. Reservoir Dogs is practically an unofficial remake of The Killing with just more violence and 70's tunes. Most of The Killing is set in the main character's apartment as everyone who took part in the heist waits for their share of the robbed cash. But unlike Reservoir Dogs, the heist in question is actually shown, and what an incredible heist it is. Despite most people reading about this film probably never hearing about it, it should definitely be checked out. For these reasons, The Killing is number three on this list.

2. Inception (USA, 2010)

Christopher Nolan's Inception may not seem like a heist film, but think about it: Leonardo DiCaprio and his team are a group thieves who invade the world of a dream to steal and to plot ideas. The film even follows the traditional heist film narrative:

Step 1: Small heist to show how team works together
Step 2: Receive plan for big heist
Step 3: Get team together
Step 4: Plan
Step 5: Begin Heist
Step 6: Everything falls apart

Inception is one of the few movies that I could just watch endlessly, not only because of it's mysterious ending (though it does help), but because of the dreamworld it creates. Not until this film was released did any film truly capture the "dream" experience, and I doubt another film ever will. The special effects, along with Christopher Nolan's direction, are both nearly flawless. When I discovered that despite the talent at hand (including Michael Caine, Ellen Page, Tom Hardy, and the obvious Leonardo DiCaprio) and the special effects, only cost $195 million, I was shocked. Yes, $195 million is a lot of money, but every little bit of it is shown on the screen. It is for these reasons that Inception is number two on this list.

1. Gun Crazy (USA, 1950)

When I chose the heist film as the subject as my "Top 5" list, I didn't realize until I began writing this piece that the very namesake of this site was a heist film. Gun Crazy is an absolutely mind bogglingly incredible film. No adjective can truly describe how much I love this movie. I actually debated with myself if I should even include it on this list because it'd be the obvious number one for me, but the word needs to be spread about this film. Starring Peggy Cummins and John Dall, Gun Crazy is the predecessor and obvious inspiration for 1969's Bonnie and Clyde. Like Bonnie and Clyde, the film circles around a couple who are not only in love, but also rob banks. The film contains a 10 minute uncut heist sequence involving going to, robbing, and getting away from a bank. Let me be frank about this scene, not only is it in my opinion the greatest heist scene of all time, but it is also the greatest long take of all time as well. Gun Crazy is one of my favorite movies of all time, should without a doubt be checked out, and is also number one on this list.

Honorable Mentions:

Ocean's Eleven (USA, 2001)
The Pink Panther (United Kingdom, 1962)
The Good, The Bad, And The Weird (South Korea, 2008)
Office Space (USA, 1999)


  1. My number one is most definitely the original Italian Job

  2. The Italian Job and Dog Day Afternoon were the two movies I really regret not seeing before I made this list. Hope to watch them as soon as possible!

  3. I'd see Rififi if you haven't, it's pretty much the prototypical heist films in a lot of ways.