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How long IS a Chinaman's Name?
tom-darwin7 May 2006
It's hard to go wrong with a story about clever criminals who must worry not only about the authorities but about the treachery of other clever criminals. Master thief Joe (Hackman) decides to call it quits after a profitable jewel store robbery in which his unmasked face is caught on camera. Trouble is, he's already committed to another, bigger job--stealing a gold shipment from a Swiss freight plane--for his fence & paymaster Mickey (Devito). Mickey won't pay off for the jewel job until Joe does the "Swiss thing." The film's first big flaw is that the animosity between Joe & Mickey, who are apparently longtime friends & associates, is never explained enough to justify why they are so willing to stick it to one another. This is a problem because Hackman's character is supposed to occupy the moral high ground (always important when everybody's a criminal) but, in the story, comes across at least as treacherous as Devito's. Fine portrayals by Hackman & Devito cover up rather than diminish this flaw. From then on it's all one twist after another, not all of which twist without leaving open holes behind. Will Joe do the job and, if so, end up doing it the way Mickey wants? Does Joe's supercool, Impossible-Mission crew (Lindo, Jay & Pigeon) trust him & stick with him all the way? Is Mickey's brash young nephew & protégé Jimmy (Rockwell), whom Mickey sends to watch Joe, really as cluelessly macho as he seems? Joe's heist plans ("cute as a pailful of kittens") are too complicated to work unless His Honor Judge Murphy is too sleepy to enforce his law. But they provide a marvellous venue for Mamet to work the lost magic of Welles & Hitchcock: developing characters through interaction & dialog. The supporting cast carries most of this task & does it very well, particularly thieves Lindo, Rockwell & Jay. Jimmy's pushy questions to the other thieves are met by cool, obfuscating questions in reply ("How long's he been with that girl?" "How long is a Chinaman's name?"). Pigeon is suitably hard-edged for this taut film, but a lone actress surrounded by so many tough actors has to bring something extra to stand out. Though he'll probably be best remember for "Hoosiers," and with respects to DeNiro in films such as "Heat" & "The Score," Hackman is the most accomplished actor in films such as this, whether as a cop ("The French Connection"), a private-eye ("Night Moves"), a technician ("The Conversation," "Enemy of the State"), a spy ("Target") or even an attorney ("Under Suspicion"). He's the top master because he rarely fails to score, even in films with plot holes, weak premises & contradictions, with his strong & convincing characterizations, the almost insane passion that lurks just beneath his plain Midwestern veneer. Fine production values, understated but effective actions scenes & an above-average music score help Hackman & Co. make "Heist" a watchable rather than forgettable thriller. Enjoy the portrayals & action but don't think too much.
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The perfect model... trips at the end of the runway
Epsillion26 September 2002
The cast alone suggests that this will be an amazing movie...and it was. The amazement however, ended just before the movie did. The performances were all great - however the writing talents were not well suited for actors of this caliber. The writer's talents were more on par with ... well... fortune cookies. This is not to say that the whole thing is bad. It is just that the ending is just over done. The whole 'tricked-ya' thing is a little old, but still acceptable. The 'tricked-ya tricked-ya tricked-ya' type endings are about as creative as a dream-sequence ending. To the defense of the movie, it is better the second time, as you are no longer worried about the ending and just enjoying the acting.
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Why Joe's part was played well by G. H. despite the popular opinion otherwise
ewilmot-18 July 2006
Warning: Spoilers
I think some comments of how poorly Joe was portrayed by Gene Hackman are greatly incorrect. Here's why: he played the character as Mamet most likely intended. We are used to seeing the bright sheen and slick attitude of movie con-men (Danny Ocean, Henry Gondorf, et al) and any offering less suave is not well received.

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.
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Opinion of a "Heidi Motherf***er"
manuel-pestalozzi9 April 2003
This movie has one twist too many. The actual heist is so complicated that the desired tension sags earlier than it should. Heist has nothing of the suspense of a Hitchcock thriller, and trying to outwit your opponent gets boring after a while when you start forgetting what it is all about. There are some nice scenes around the airport though, some memorable dialogue ("everybody needs money, that's why it's called money"), and it's always fun to watch great professionals like Hackman, Rockwell and DeVito. Mamet's stock actor Ricky Jay adds flavour to the movie as usual, Rebecca Pigeon's part was ungrateful to play and somehow superfluous.

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.
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Good dialogue – but the plot is a little tired
bob the moo11 June 2002
After an elaborate jewel robbery Joe Moore and his crew go to collect their cut from Bergman. However Bergman ropes them into another job – taking gold from a Swiss airline prior to transfer. Joe reluctantly agrees to do the job and takes Bergman's nephew along to reassure him. However Joe is never without a backup plan and double cross follows double cross.

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.
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Middling Mamet
Elliott Noble17 December 2002
Does exactly what it says on the tin, with perhaps a slight overload on the double-crosses and some surprisingly cringeworthy dialogue from such a practised ear:

"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.
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You just can't find any good hired help anymore.
George Parker12 March 2002
In "Heist", Hackman plays and aging thief who, saddled with a beautiful young wife, no pension, and the disintegration of the old school thief ethic, decides to pull one last job so he can sail off into the sunset with his babe. The film, fraught with implausibilities, is all about who's the smarter thief (which, of course, would be the one with all the loot at the end) and deals with strategizing, conflict containment, greed, and other thief problems while forsaking action stuff (stunts, chases, sex, etc) as it labors through its somewhat convoluted plot. Good old Hollywood thief stuff with a solid cast worth a watch. Turn off brain and enjoy.
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Too complicated to be a classic
aramo113 May 2002
Based on R1 DVD

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.

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Tries too hard
RowdyHagg10 November 2001
Knowing the quality of Mamet's previous works, maybe I expected too much out of this one, but as it stands I just wasn't impressed by this film. Am I the only one who got bored during this movie? The characters were good except Fran (Rebecca Pidgeon). She is just there to deliver one-liners the whole time and provide sex appeal. I know her demeanor is quiet and conniving, but she just struts around waiting to make overly witty replies. The rest of the cast were excellent, Delroy Lindo outshined Hackman as his right-hand thug, Ricky Jay pulls off the calm and collected badass, Sam Rockwell delivers a good presence that you just hate, DeVito was awesome as the break-your-balls "bad" criminal and Hackman played his part well as he always does.

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.
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Double-crosses and slang galore, but not a bad film
TBJCSKCNRRQTreviews15 January 2006
I didn't know anything about David Mamet before I saw this film... now I know that he's got a penchant for characters with ulterior motives and slang-heavy dialog. Going into this film, I didn't expect anything but a(surprise surprise) heist flick. I got just that. Not just a heist flick, but a well-acted, nicely directed and quite entertaining one, at that. The plot is pretty good, and keeps your interest throughout. There are a fair bit of double-crosses throughout, and near the end, it does get somewhat tiresome. The acting is all top-notch. Not one performance was even slightly off. It's no surprise to see such high-quality acting from Hackman, Lindo and Rockwell, but I had not expected such excellent performances from DeVito and Jay. The writing is very good, but Mamet uses too many clichés and there's just a tad too much going on in the shadows, people conspiring against each other. The dialog tries oh so hard to be clever, and occasionally succeeds, but more often than not, it just comes off as pretentiousness, with all the slang, the attempts at being clever and the ridiculously high pace it sometimes sports. The cinematography is great, not one shot was poor or out of place. The pacing is mostly good, though the film seems to go on just a bit too long. All in all, an entertaining heist film, but not one to watch much more than one time. I recommend this to all fans of heist flicks, any of the actors and David Mamet(who seems to be all about these films). 7/10
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The Stated and the Main
tedg14 November 2001
Warning: Spoilers
Spoilers herein

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.
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Disposable Mamet
rcraig6220 June 2004
"Heist" is probably the least satisfying of all of David Mamet's pictures. It's OK, but nothing more. It's the usual Mamet fare, about a career criminal pulling one last job before retiring, replete with the typical cons, deceptions, crosses and double-crosses. I thought Gene Hackman's characterization was poor, his performance coarse and rough-edged, without the subtlety or smoothness of a trickster or confidence man (Phil Silvers would have been more believable). The other performances are passable, but Mamet's old card-sharp buddy Ricky Jay is just terrible. Mamet is normally very smart about how to spot Jay in films (as he did in "Things Change" making the terrific "this is a matter of public knowledge" speech), but here he is asked to carry a few scenes, and he's really hung out to dry. The scene where he explains to his little daughter why Daddy has to be away from home works, because he speaks in a false, condescending tone that parents often use with children. Trouble is, he sounds like that all the time, and in other scenes, he is really exposed.

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
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wonderful game!
vovjop4 April 2003
Mamet did it again, when you are watching the movie you know that is a Mamet´s game, so you don´t know what you have to believe. Gene Hackman is like always perfect, and i didn´t know the sexy side of Rebecca Pidgeon, beautiful and erotic in this movie. Is a 10/10 film I recommend it to everybody who loves Hitchcock.
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Another Hackman classic
Benjamin Wolfe23 January 2007
This trio, was on top when they were together in Elmore Leonards 'Get Shorty' and now again another different great threesome. This is different to me in the way that I feel when I am watching this. The lines are smart and some are kind of crazy and or senseless, but nonetheless, it seems to be not like all else. Joe Moore (Gene Hackman) and his crew, are planning a large heist. A nephew, of his crime partner(s) is sent as a sort of weird chaperon. Mickey Bergman's(Danny DeVito) right hand kid, Jimmy (Sam Rockwell), Sam plays the puke thief part to a prime role. Only this kid seems more of a liability than a part of the crew, which Joe is having to deal with. Bobby Blane, (Delroy Lindo) is a great partner in that he is down with Joe in whatever and follows the program well. 'Pinky' Don Pincus(Ricky Jay) is the 'switch' man and he is very good at his job. Slide of hand, out of sight and out of mind, before you know whats happened! From the jewelry store situation, to the 'workmen' at the airport, on the isolated runway, they move like shadows in a dark place. Joe, is undoubtedly the man, in that when you are a master planner and executor, you're not generally as 'easily swayed' by your emotions and poor planning.

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.(***)
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I just don't get Mamet
bz_lob22 March 2002
I had a hard time sitting through this one. David Mamet gets nods for his use of rhythmic dialogue. The dialogue in Heist is what turned me off. I felt the actors were limited to simply delivering lines: Deliver a line, wait for a line. And so on....

I was not drawn in. The characters were meaningless. The story held nothing new.
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David Mamet thinks he's so clever
imdb-645219 October 2005
I have a soft spot for David Mamet---but his ever-so-clever, abstruse, angular dialog can't really overcome a plot as unbelievably stupid as this one. Imagine if James Bond took itself seriously and you'll have an idea what drek lies in store for you if you sit down to this mess.

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.
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It's his road game
Simon Harris15 September 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Many of the reviews on this film mention the fact that it is overcomplicated and may have one twist too many. Good. I like to have to think about what's on the screen. If I want to switch off and simply stare, I'll watch a Transformers movie. For those viewers who like to keep on their toes and have to assess and maybe even re-assess what they are seeing this is a great movie. Snappy, quick fire dialogue, the kind of criminal, low life patois that Mamet does so well is peppered throughout the film, with staple Ricky Jay "cute as a Chinese baby" or "And there he goes!" getting some of the best lines. Top notch performances all round from all the cast members make this a classy, complex movie. Hackman's criminal mastermind is more than an equal to DeNiro's Neil McCauley in Heat but minus the sub-machine guns, and with a real world weariness about him, as he tries to ensure his last "thing" pays off. Delroy Lindo, Danny De Vito and Sam Rockwell don't let the side down either with strong support performances,and Rebecca Pidgeon as Hackman's much younger wife is diamond hard and dangerous as the only female in a world of double dealing Alpha males. Fans of the genre will be happy to watch it more than once as the web woven and the crossfire dialogue means there is always some new slant on events. Complex plotting, quotable dialogue, strong leads and supporting actors and David Mamet at the helm mean there are many worse ways to spend an evening.
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Worth renting if you like Hackman
LTDwithMWP26 September 2002
Warning: Spoilers
Spoilers....Movie kept me awake and it's always fun watching and rooting for Hackman. He always gives a film a level of intensity that makes it worth renting. But the actual heist is weak. The scene on the runway was just silly. "Stay off the radio!" ??? The first thing the pilot would have done would have been to radio the tower that a van had just pulled in front of them. Game over. And that other jet that they almost sideswipe? Same thing. And how convenient that we don't get to see how they actually drive away from the airport...through the woods? And being allowed back into the burgled jet within a day to retrieve your own shipment? It was amusing to watch the gold filled crates bobble and bounce as they were being nimbly dollied to the edge of the cargo bay...they must have weighed all of 10 kilos. But it was worth renting to hear Danny D's last words. I don't know if that exchange has been uttered before in filmdom but it left me with a 6/10 feeling instead of a 4/10.
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Typical Mamet
bryce007225 July 2002
For anyone who's seen `House of Games' or `The Spanish Prisoner', `Heist' will offer nothing new. In the typical David Mamet tradition, we follow the misadventures of con artists and crooks. As usual, we have a tendency to know more about the plot than the characters do.

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'.

Rating: 7/10
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Too Much of Mamet
dromasca6 June 2002
I was a fun of David Mamet since 'House of Games'. The main problem of this film is that it includes too much of the Mamet stuff. The plot is too convoluted, the next turn had always a next turn, that has always a next turn - this becomes repetitive. The imprevisible becomes previsible. Good acting from such great actors as Gene Hackman (did he ever play bad?) or deVitto sustain a good entertainment movie, but still a relative low in the directors' carrier.
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Mamet, Mamet, Mamet...
jantoniou14 June 2004
I fear he is becoming a bad proto-Mamet. "Heist" evidences Mamet's overuse of Mametesque devices which are becoming really rather retreaded, tired cliches in the types of movies he tends to do.

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.
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Standard heist fare
Barky446 April 2006
This film is aptly named. By simply calling it "Heist", the filmmakers signal that they are simply making another heist film.

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.

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You know why the chicken crossed the road? Because the road crossed the chicken.
Spikeopath4 May 2013
Heist is written and directed by David Mamet. It stars Gene Hackman, Danny DeVito, Delroy Lindo, Sam Rockwell, Rebbecca Pidgeon and Ricky Jay. Music is by Theodore Shapiro and cinematography by Robert Elswit.

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
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Very good movie, full of plot twists.
nemesis198116 May 2003
First off, this movie is great, but as long as you take it for what it is. This a clever movie with a bit of action, not an action movie with a few hints of a plot. The action is limited, but that is irrelevant. This movie is about a heist, as stated, and the cast are in a class of their own, they are the classic actors who we see less and less nowadays but still easily hold their own against the new actors coming onto the scene, and if anything are better than half of them. I am a great Gene Hackman fan. Delroy Lindo also plays his role excellently. Basically I cant tell you anything about the film without ruining it, but just as a taster to get the inquisitive thinking when they watch the movie, the line that gives away the last twist is when Gene Hackman says "I wouldn't even tie my shoe laces without a backup plan." See this movie. Its good.
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Clever, but a little stand-offish.
satanslittlehelper2 April 2002
If you liked House of Games, you'll probably like this one. It has the same cute dialogue, a plot that's just as complex, and a little more violence. Like House of Games and a number of Mamet's other projects, it doesn't really involve the audience in any emotional way, but it isn't supposed to. It's not a great film, but it's good.
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