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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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
"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.
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.
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.
*** This review may contain 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.
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
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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