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rare female film critic | by maryann johanson

steal these movies: great heist flicks

Mad Money opens tomorrow, and it’s yet another heist flick, which are almost always fun — and this one is unusual in that it’s the girls getting to have all the felonious fun this time around. And so I figured I’d put together a little retrospective of great heist movies. Which I started, as I always do, by Googling around to see what other people have said about great heist movies. And I realized that I haven’t seen a lot of the movies that a lot of people consider great heist films.

So I’ll start with a rundown of those I know and love, and then mention a couple I’m embarrassed to admit I’ve never seen (they’re now in my Netflix queue), but that would probably be on my best-of-heists lists if I had.
Die Hard and Die Hard With a Vengeance. Hans Gruber steals millions in bearer bonds from Nakatomi Tower in Los Angeles, and then Simon Gruber steals billions in gold from the Federal Reserve bank in lower Manhattan. Not only do the brother share a taste for crime, they both hate John McClane, too. [Vengeance review] [buy the Die Hard collection at Amazon]

The Great Muppet Caper. Jewel thief Charles Grodin frames Miss Piggy for his thefts, forcing Kermit and the gang to hunt him down and clear her name. It’s critters made of felt, singing and dancing and solving crimes. Movies don’t get any better than this. [buy at Amazon]

Ocean’s Eleven. The 2001, of course. Probably my favorite heist movie, because it’s so clever and so funny. And no one gets hurt. It’s easier to find thieves sexy when they don’t shoot people. [review] [buy at Amazon]

Quick Change. What kind of clown thinks he can rob a bank in broad daylight and just walk away? Bill Murray, that’s what kind of clown. Hilarious. [buy at Amazon]

Ronin. Robert DeNiro leads an uneasy band of professional bad guys as they attempt to steal a mysterious silver briefcase from a mysterious band of even worst bad guys for the mysterious man who hired them, who may be a bad guy. [review] [buy at Amazon]

The Usual Suspects. The robbery of lots of dough from corrupt NYPD officers is only the beginning of the twisty weirdness of this one. We never even know who the big bad villain is until the final moments of the film, which ends up suggesting that maybe that robbery never even happened in the first place. [buy at Amazon]

Wallace and Gromit: The Wrong Trousers. A penguin disguised as a chicken plots to steal a rare and beautiful diamond, and only a cheese-eating man and his dog — which is smarter than his owner — can stop him. Awesome. [review] [buy at Amazon]

And the ones I haven’t seen:

Dog Day Afternoon. Al Pacino holds up a bank in order to raise the money for his boyfriend’s sex-change operation. Aw, that’s so sweet. [buy at Amazon]

Reservoir Dogs. A diamond heist goes bad and the thieves turn on one another. Considering that this is from Tarantino, I expect the turning-on involves massive blood loss. [buy at Amazon]

The Taking of Pelham One Two Three. Robert Shaw takes hostages on a New York City subway train and demands a ransom of one meeellion dollars! Maybe that doesn’t really qualify as a heist, but it’s pretty damn audacious. [buy at Amazon]

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