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Joe was an aging has-been. The film alludes to his down-slide the whole time. He gets "burned", loses his take and gets forced into another "thing". Bobby even voices this explicitly to him when he "walks out" on the "thing". **side note: Bobby obviously was putting on the dog and pony show for Jimmy when he said those things, but they still have merit as I'll explain**
So, why am I under the opinion G.H. did a better job then most give him credit for?
Joe was down and out- supposedly weak in the game and broke. He had to keep up this illusion to successfully allow everyone else (but Bobby and Pinky) to under-estimate him. He also feared there was probably validity to his supposed weakness. He musters his talent to execute a great heist and dodge the complications. Essentially, Gene Hackman had to play a character who was descending into age and loss, gathering his talents for "the thing" and dealing with betrayal, have the confidence in himself but also the fear of his "lameness", and put on a front that he was a foolish has been. He did not play him "weak", but played the "has-been with doubt who thinks he can pull it off but keeps a 'lame' front". The layered complexity of the character was portrayed by G.H. very well but lost on those who fail to see it.
Hackman and his boys are doing The Swiss Job. Some old and newer clichés of my country pop up, viewers here were amused. And, believe me, the Swiss are always pleased when someone across the Atlantic acknowledges their mere existence, in whatever way this is done. Well, I have to go now: It's time to wind up my cuckoo-clock and to put a second lock on my own private stash of gold bullions.
This really tries to be good it has a good sense of tough moodiness about it and has plenty of good lines and a top class cast. However it tries too hard to be a twisty crime thriller and doesn't quite convince. Where twists and double crosses are best is when they are unexpected and surprising. Heist has so many `twists' that they lack impact or power. Instead of being surprised we expect the next one to be only a few seconds away. Although some of them are clever most of them lack the punch Mamet clearly wanted them to have. That said it's still an enjoyable thriller but don't expect the plot to stand up in the cold light of day.
As I said the cast are famous and all do well. Hackman is grizzled but clever and can easily `do tough', Lindo is always good to watch but Ricky Jay seems out of place. I always find him easy to watch because he is naturally curious I think but his manner doesn't seem to fit in with the rest of the cast. DeVito and Rockwell are good. It would be hard to compete in such a male driven plot and indeed Pidgeon struggles to get a character for herself.
The cast do so well because Mamet is a good writer of dialogue even if he overdid the twists, lines are quotable, funny or just cool `My motherf****r is so cool when he goes to sleep sheep count him' or `don't you want to hear my last words?' `I just did'. Even if the plot doesn't convince the direction, the dialogue and the cast make this better than the mess it should be.
Overall it has good qualities, but the one driving force it needed was a much better story. It's entertaining enough to pass 100 minutes but really the many word that comes to mind is disappointing.
"Everybody needs money - that's why they call it money" spouts Danny DeVito. Uh? Am I missing something or is this utter nonsense? Maybe it looked good on the page, but it stinks when it's out in the open.
Nowhere near as tight and entertaining as 'House Of Games' or 'The Spanish Prisoner', but then even an average Mamet thriller is worth a look.
David Mamet is famed for complicated plots and the Heist is no exception. Unfortunately for the viewer - Mamet neglects to have the characters explain what they intend to do before they do it so it difficult to know when they switch from Plan A to Backup Plan B to Alternate Plan C .. this happens a lot in the movie. It's also impossible to figure out what the individual characters believe to be the current working plan. All of these leads to a loss of tension as you sit back and wait and see how it plays out.
A good robbery movie which could have been better.
The story bored me however. You knew what was going to happen before it happened and there were too many twists in the movie that they lost their affect. Twists are good when used sparingly and when used at the right time. I didn't like the timing of them in this movie or the overuse of them. It got boring because the characters always pull something out of their hat when you "least expect it."
For me dialogue has to be two things, witty and believable. Now the dialogue in this film is witty, Mamet probably took a while to compile all these quotes into one movie, but it is too much. It is simply to much. All Rebecca Pidgeon says is these crafty responses and she engages no real conversation. As for believable, people don't speak like this. No one, not even the coolest cat in the world and half the time I am trying to figure out what the hell they mean.
The plot is way too contrived, it is too much. Their is a backup plan, for a backup plan, for a backup plan, for a ... The scene on the runway was crap, impossible. Never would have happened. Too many "overly" perfect plans and too many twists make this plot boring to watch.
Wait for the rental.
If he doesn't always entertain, Mamet always stimulates. His method is simple and consistent: explore the ambiguity between a reality and a presentation of that reality, and to do so through the fine, immediate granularity of dialog rather than character or plot.
His past films have been various takes on this same issue, only the outer form changing, from a multilevel 42nd Vanya to an extended cover for a lie (Winslow) to a film about making a film (State). Here the device is an old one: the scam. In the convention, the smart guy (and we know immediately who he is) has everything figured out. Such stories are a sort of reverse mystery -- the hero has already understood events and the viewer experiences the extended revelation.
In this convention, the genius of the hero in anticipating events is sacrosanct. And because we are seeing the mystery in expositional form, the camera must remain stationary and remote as if it were a theater patron. And that's where Mamet turns everything on its head. Anyone who thinks this movie is anything at all like `the Score' or `Entrapment' should have their license to watch films revoked.
The first reverse is mechanical. Until now, Mamet's work has been strikingly conventional so far as the stance of the camera. All his prior stuff has placed the viewer squarely in his or her theater seat. But here, where the form demands just that approach, he decides to make his camera dance. He grabs P T Anderson's camera guy and makes the camera a character. It's not fully masterful, but it is very clever: sometimes we are `gathered' with one group of conspirators, sometimes with another. Mamet's intent throughout is to not only shift the truth, but shift the perspective of the truth as well.
The second way he messes with the form is that the plan falls apart at every turn. The hero hasn't scoped out everything, he's just agile enough to have lots of backups. But this guy hardly wins, which is what the form usually demands. He gets shot. His friend gets killed. He loses his lovely young sexy wife, even his boat. This is unlike the `Spanish Prisoner' which was a sterile scam that unfurled according to plan.. This one is fraught with chance, error and human unpredictability. The entertaining part is that even after a couple viewings, you can't tell which is which: which is plan, which error -- which intended red herrings, and which just abandoned intent.
Mamet usually works with actors who play multiple dimensions at once. But here he picks a different lot: actors who are obvious. That is, we are always conscious that they are playing a part. He exploits this weakness to blend with the same weakness of the characters who themselves are obvious actors, (I doubt Hackman knows he's being goofed on.)
Two exceptions: First, Devito is one of the most intelligent men in Hollywood if not the best actor. He plays the shill, which is yet another reversal.
The other exception is Ms Rebecca. In past outings Mamet has carefully written her part as an act of love, even sex. Here, he assumes too much. Many plot turns depend on her sexual opportunism, on her balanced scheming. Much revolves around her pulling this off, and he is so smitten that he assumes we have the same vision of her that he does, (See how Orson Welles similarly missed with his wife Rita in `Shanghai.')
Though pretty, she just isn't up to this central role. For some reason, I think Jennifer Jason Leigh would have been able to have the requisite conniving moistness.
But the real star of the movie is Mamet himself, that is, his wannabe dialogue that aspires to the cornball cleverness of something like "Sweet Smell Of Success". Some of the lines are funny ("everybody needs money, that's why they call it money"), others clunk with a heavy thud and you just cringe with embarrassment. Try these on for size:
"Nobody lives forever." "Frank Sinatra gave it a try." OR
"My MF's so cool, when he goes to sleep, sheep count him." OR
"Cute plan though." "Cute as a Chinese baby."
I'm a big fan of David Mamet's work, so I'm a little more kindly disposed to his failures. But at least his failures show some thought, effort and intelligence. 2 ** out of 4
A 6.4 on the user rating this movie is set at a sort of different pace but it works well! That's why I rate it high! 10-10>> Recommended.(***)
I was not drawn in. The characters were meaningless. The story held nothing new.
Not that ridiculous plots have ever stopped Mamet before, but we're definitely descending to new lows here. Even Gene Hackman can't rescue this dud. In order for the irony to work it has to be set to some intelligence, but the turgid clichés and idiotic characters in this woofer sink like a sailboat made of gold.
Give this one a miss.
One reason this movie may be receiving so many negative reviews, is that it's basically a comedy caper. Don't expect to take this one seriously. `The Spanish Prisoner' is so serious it will undoubtedly give you a headache. `House of Games' is comprised completely of wooden acting. `Heist', for me, is a refreshing change of pace.
Just be forewarned: DO NOT TRY TO TAKE IT SERIOUSLY. Although it's not quite a comedy, it is what I would consider a "feel-good" movie. It's both interesting and entertaining, but not necessarily realistic. I have to admit, it does have an amateur feel, but it moves quickly and is fun to watch. Ultimately, I would expect any fan of Mamet to enjoy this installment of the `con-collection'.
Mamet's clipped, rigid, witty dialogue sometimes amazes me, but, once heard one too many times, becomes a serious stylistic liability that wears thin (see "Oleanna" as a prime example of this). This dialogue tended to floooowwww more naturally in Glengarry Glen Ross (perhaps because it wasn't directed by him), but, after Heist his endeavors as a scripter AND director seem to carry too many Mamet signatures in them.
Hackman and Lindo are typically brilliantly, though I found Hackman's seductive wife almost completely contrived. Her cleverness is overstated and overused. The "Pinky" character is the funniest and most wisely used Mametesque character. I actually bought him.
The heist itself is a pretty well-conceived scenario and it sets up the triple- and quadruple-twists that come in the end. One thing I found odd--indeed, almost unheard of in these types of movies--is that the heist seemed to just start, just out of the blue. There was no dramatic build-up to it at all. Suddenly, it was just happening. Very strange feeling.
I have another Mamet movie in my queue, but I am waiting a week or two to watch it--the guy really can be a lot to endure.
If you're a Mamet fan or a fan of heist-type movies, this is probably a worthy rental, but I wouldn't call it believable or particularly good piece of cinema.
I found this film mildly entertaining, but not particularly interesting. It has some nice plot twists, but there are also moments where it completely falls apart. The signature heist itself is so ridiculous I found myself screaming at the inanity of it all. Films like this are almost completely at the mercy of the plot, and if the plot has gaping holes, credibility is lost.
The other elements of the movie were also not particularly interesting. The acting is steady but unmoving. The characters are clever but shallow. The music and cinematography is on par with the NBC "Movie of the Week." I give it a rating as high as 7 because I did get a kick out of it. It just doesn't live up to contemporary professional standards.
The film industry has done tons of heist movies. The genre is just about finished.
7 out of 10.
Joe Moore (Hackman) and his small band of thieves are "coerced" into taking on one last big job by their shifty fence Mickey Bergman (DeVito). But when Bergman's nephew Jimmy Silk (Rockwell) is sent along on the heist with them, it could prove to be a recipe for disaster?
The "one last job" theme is a familiar plot device in many a crime and noir picture, but as Mamet proves here, it can still remain fresh if given its own sheen. Divisive amongst Mamet's fans and seen as a lesser light in the director's neo-noir output, Heist improves greatly upon a second viewing. In fact it holds up as a clinically executed piece of noirish cinema, it's smart, crafty and laced with essence of cool.
You're a piece of work!
I came all the way from China in a matchbox.
Structured around twists and tricks, where nothing is ever as it seems - including the wonderfully ambiguous finale - Heist positively thrives on the snap, crackle and pop of Mamet's dialogue, dialogue that comes trickling off the tongues of characters whose loyalties/dis-loyalties are never 100% certain. Quite often what is being said is in clipped format, where the meaning is different to what is actually being said, while visual exchanges, also, sometimes mean more than it appears at first glance. Make no bones about it, this is no ordinary caper movie, it's labyrinthine in plotting and the director toys with the conventions of the formula.
My MOFO is so cool when sheep go to bed they count him!
Visually Mamet and DOP Elswit keep the colours smooth, but they do throw in some interesting angles and use smoky lenses to accentuate the possibility of cloudy means and motives. Acting performances are mostly excellent. Hackman underplays it perfectly as a world weary crim who may or may not be one step ahead of the game? Lindo is muscular and cool, Jay a stoic side-kick, DeVito slimy and Pidgeon (Mamet's wife) provides layers as the fulcrum femme. Only real disappointment comes with Rockwell as the poisonous adder in the thieves nest. A few years away from becoming the great actor he is now, Rockwell here lacks a dangerous dynamism, a raw sexuality to really make the integral character work to its potential.
Elsewhere there's flaws, such as the key heist involving an aeroplane that stretches credibility to breaking point; a shame since the opening robbery that introduces us to the characters is brilliantly constructed, and the big "shoot-out" scene lacks the energy to really raise the pulse; but even within that scene is a great moment as DeVito's Mickey Bergman, in amongst the flying bullets, shouts out the question: "why can't we just talk?", why indeed? You see, in Mamet's badly under valued neo-noir, talk is everything. Beautifully so. 8/10