Top 10 Heist Movies
Rarely does a debut novelist come along and create such buzz that the film rights to their first book are snapped up within weeks, but Roger Hobbs, a 24-year-old who completed the first draft of his first novel The Ghostman whilst attending college, has burst onto the crime and thriller scene and electrified it. Warner Bros. has taken the film rights to The Ghostman and early reviews for the book are full of high praise for Hobbs.
As The Ghostman explores the not-so-gentle art of staging heists, we asked Roger to share his all-time favourite heist movies featuring hold-ups and large scale organised crime.
Over to Roger….
While I was researching The Ghostman, I watched a lot of heist movies. As many as I could get my hands on, actually. I marinated by brain in stories of diamonds, masks and wads of cash. I especially loved heist movies that did something new or unexpected with the genre. Here below are my top ten favorite heist movies.
10. Inside Man (2006), by Spike Lee
Inside Man is about a bank robbery turned into a hostage situation, much like the seminal Dog Day Afternoon. But unlike that film, Inside Man never tips its hand. It keeps the audience guessing what’s going on until the very end. Denzel Washington gives an amazing performance. This is certainly one worth watching.
9. Ocean’s Eleven (2001), by Steven Soderbergh
Probably the most recognized heist movie ever made, Ocean’s Eleven is one of those flicks that makes robbery look incredibly fun. Populated by a list of movie stars as long as your forearm, this ensemble piece manages to be quick, wry, sexy, and oh-so-very clever. There’s little about it not to love.
8. Die Hard (1988), by John McTiernan
A lot of people might not think of Die Hard as a heist movie, but they would be dead wrong. Alan Rickman plays one of the greatest villains of all time, a the suave, intelligent terrorist named Hans Gruber who takes over an LA office building to steal the bearer bonds hidden within. Thrilling and fast-paced, Die Hard reinvented the action movie and withstood the test of time. Even now 25 years later, it is still heart-racing and fun.
7. The Getaway (1972), by Sam Peckinpah
Sam Peckinpah’s greatest movie is his revisionist western The Wild Bunch, but The Getaway, starring Steve McQueen, is almost as good. The Getaway is about a wheelman whose girlfriend springs him from prison, only to entangle him in a heist gone very, very wrong. The film showcases Peckinpah’s greatest talent – editing. Slow motion shots mixed with intense, alien sounds enhance the film’s emotional impact.
6. Inception (2010), by Christopher Nolan
This is the rare heist movie that managed to do something completely, utterly new. It is set entirely inside somebody’s dreams. Not only is the concept absolutely brilliant, but the film is a structural masterpiece. The plot of the heist intertwines elegantly with a sub-plot about the main character’s inner demons – there is never a boring moment. This is a movie worth watching again and again.
5. Reservoir Dogs (1992), by Quentin Tarantino
Easily one of Quentin Tarantino’s best films, it shows how a good filmmaker can do a lot with a little. Set almost entirely in a warehouse after a botched diamond heist, the claustrophobia of the setting really brings out the best and worst in each character. The film brings some much-needed drama to a genre that is all-too-often popcorn material.
4. Heist (2001), by David Mamet
Heist, written by the brilliant playwright David Mamet, is the most smartly written heist movie ever put to screen. This is a film all about the language. Characters speak in this thick, rich criminal slang that moves along at the speed of an intercontinental ballistic missile. Add to that enough crosses, double crosses, twists and turns to break a man’s neck, and you’ve got one hell of a movie.
3. The Usual Suspects (1995), by Bryan Singer
The Usual Suspects is one of those movies that has it all – an amazing ensemble cast, cool characters, beautiful cinematography, and one of the greatest plot twists of all time. The film toys with narrative like a cat with a ball of twine, and I love it.
2. Heat (1995), by Michael Mann
No list of heist films would be complete without Michael Mann’s bank robbery masterpiece, Heat. Loosely based on the famous real life North Hollywood Shootout, this film pits an overworked detective played by Al Pacino against a bank robbery crew led by Robert DeNiro. This film changed the heist genre forever.
1. Drive (2011), by Nicolas Winding Refn
Originally written to be a big-budget popcorn action movie, director Nicolas Winding Refn instead turned Drive, a film about a wheelman who falls in love, into something far more magical. Stunning cinematography works together with an elegant, subtle plot and a truly amazing performance by Ryan Gosling to create one of the finest movies I’ve ever seen. It is subtle, brutal, elegant, elegiac, and moving. This neon-noir perfects the genre.