Heist (2001) Poster


User Reviews

Review this title
299 Reviews
Sort by:
Filter by Rating:
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.
34 out of 47 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
You just can't find any good hired help anymore.
=G=12 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.
34 out of 51 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
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.
38 out of 50 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
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.
63 out of 95 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
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
19 out of 29 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Hard boiled heist
Prismark1013 March 2015
David Mamet loves confidence tricksters. He understands the art of the con and he likes writing about the subject. When Mamet writes or directs a film about con men you know its a multi layered experience.

Heist though is a misfire. It stars Gene Hackman and Rebecca Pidgeon as husband and wife as well as Danny DeVito, Delroy Lindo and Sam Rockwell.

Gene Hackman and his gang are forced by DeVito to steal a shipment of Swiss gold and has his nephew (Sam Rockwell) to tag along. He has an eye for Pidgeon and no one wants to share the proceeds of the heist.

Its hard boiled with hard cursing and some Mamet regulars such as Ricky Jay. However Hackman is too old to be Pidgeon's husband and Pidgeon as an actress is weak here. The plot is too complicated as its based on a double cross on a double cross as well as a shootout where the bad guys have to be poor shots for any overall plan to work.

The acting from Hackman, DeVito, Lindo and Rockwell make the film watchable but its a missed opportunity from Mamet.
10 out of 14 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
It's his road game
simon-harris2015 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.
10 out of 11 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
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.
13 out of 20 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
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.
24 out of 27 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
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.

31 out of 48 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Middling Mamet
skymovies17 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.
29 out of 46 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Once Is Not Enough
seymourblack-112 August 2015
Warning: Spoilers
Written and directed by David Mamet, this superior crime thriller begins with a brilliantly choreographed jewellery-store robbery that demonstrates just how professional and skilled the team of thieves are. The obviously high level of trust and understanding that they share, enable them to cope when things don't go exactly as planned and to improvise well whenever the need arises. The pace and precision of what happens in these opening scenes is impressive and intriguing and sets the tone for everything that follows. Numerous plot twists, double-crosses and humorous moments then add to the fun as the plot becomes increasingly complicated and the gang have to cope with some unexpected challenges.

When veteran thief and gang-leader Joe Moore (Gene Hackman) accidentally has his picture captured on a security camera during a high-value jewellery robbery, he knows that the most sensible course of action is to retire immediately and head south on his boat with his much younger wife Fran (Rebecca Pidgeon). He encounters a problem, however, when his fence and financial backer Mickey Bergman (Danny DeVito) opposes the plan because he's already invested a large sum of money in setting up the gang's next job. Bergman isn't willing to make any concessions and withholds the gang's share of the proceeds of the robbery to force them into carrying out "the Swiss thing".

"The Swiss thing" turns out to be an extremely dangerous but highly lucrative robbery of a huge shipment of gold from a Swiss cargo plane. To make matters worse, however, the distrustful Bergman stipulates that his nephew Jimmy Silk (Sam Rockwell) has to go along as one of the gang to ensure that they go ahead with the heist exactly as planned. Silk is young, inexperienced and impulsive and also has designs on Fran. He sees Joe as an old guy who's losing his grip and soon starts to think of how he could get away with both the gold and the girl.

Joe feels compelled to go ahead with the gold heist and although he has complete faith in the loyalty and professionalism of his right-hand man Bobby Blane (Delroy Lindo) and his diversionary expert Pinky (Ricky Jay), the on-going presence of Jimmy Silk continues to be a source of great concern even after the ambitious heist has been successfully carried out.

David Mamet's style of direction is perfect for this material as he brings great coherence and momentum to the intricate plot and his dialogue, as usual, is sharp, witty and quite unique. Some clever quips and brilliant banter illuminate the exchanges between the main characters but the usual formality and stilted nature of Mamet's lines are less apparent in this movie, possibly due to the presence of Gene Hackman. His skillful delivery is so warm and natural that it makes even the most contrived phrases sound quite spontaneous and his interactions with Delroy Lindo are a real highlight. Both actors excel in this movie as do Ricky Jay and Danny DeVito who also make their characters very real.

The high quality of the direction, the writing and the acting ensure that a higher-then-average rating is merited but what's probably even more impressive is the way in which Mamet has taken a very simple and familiar plot and developed it into an enjoyable thriller that actually gets better with each repeat viewing. In the case of "Heist", once is definitely not enough.
8 out of 11 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Another Hackman classic
buzznzipp199523 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.(***)
12 out of 17 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
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
41 out of 70 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
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.
20 out of 24 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Mamet style dialog but lacks excitement
SnoopyStyle24 November 2015
Joe Moore (Gene Hackman) leads a gang of thieves that includes his wife Fran Moore (Rebecca Pidgeon), Pinky Pincus (Ricky Jay) and Bob Blane (Delroy Lindo). Joe gets recorded robbing a jewelery store and he wants to cash out. However, the crooked fence Mickey Bergman (Danny Devito) forces him to do another job to steal a Swiss gold shipment with Mickey's nephew (Sam Rockwell) as part of the crew.

David Mamet has his stylish dialog delivered by a great cast capable of delivering the lines believably. The plot is full of twisty turns of distrust and paranoia. It does feel a little too manufactured but it is undeniably Mamet. The capers are interesting but mechanically filmed. This is functional but lacks real excitement.
8 out of 14 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Wow. Now that's a stupid movie
onepotato212 March 2006
A friend owns this DVD. After watching it with him I had to reassess his taste. This excruciating movie may be the dumbest thing ever committed to celluloid. Not the worst movie (which has to go to Home Fries or Nothing but Trouble), just the dumbest. It's a new heist filmed loosely based on all the old heist films. Mamet's thinking can be no deeper than: "Some movies I like have a plot twist. If one plot twist is good, nine must be better, and I'll put four in the final ten minutes." I HATE the inept attempt to suggest that these characters are smart or clever based on their anticipation of the flood of insipid switchbacks in the plot. They ain't. No one could anticipate the goofy, arbitrary final number of switacharoos that this movie grants to Gene Hackman.

Equally horrible is Mamets dialogue, which has little to do with life on this planet ("I'll be quieter than an ant pissing on cotton..."). His trademark cornball, retro language causes me pain. He can't stop himself from surrounding a crappy line with lots of company. Mamet peaked early in film. House of Games had some things going for it. But it also had stinky language ("Aren't you a caution?"). I could endure it's artifice based on the very deliberate pacing, like a game; up until that unsatisfying ending where he threw structure and pacing out the window for a slip-up/revelation straight out of Freud 101.

Mamet's current, non-descript wife Rebecca Pigeon shows up in an undeserved central role, as he likes to do (the previous Mrs. Mamet, Lyndsey Crouse was not bad in House of Games). Pigeon has more than worn out her chirpy, shallow welcome.

On the other side, Mamet could help you realize what an antiquated, exhausted genre the heist film is.
11 out of 19 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
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.
12 out of 22 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
The usual suspects
tomsview5 April 2016
When "Heist" first came out, I was hoping that it would have all those Mamet touches that had surprised me so much in "House of Games", "Homicide", and even "The Spanish Prisoner".

It did, but maybe it also 'cracks out of turn". This time I could anticipate the twists.

Mamet regulars Rebecca Pigeon and Ricky Jay are joined by Gene Hackman as Joe Moore, the head of a crew of jewel thieves. He takes on a big heist for his difficult partner Mickey Bergman (Danny DeVito), but he has been identified on a previous job and is saddled with Bergman's impulsive son. "Heist" continues David Mamet's fascination with long and short cons, tells, marks and grifts. But like Joe Moore, Mamet has been made from a previous job and now we are ready for him - we've ramped up our security.

The film has a better first half and looks good. It also has a pacey score by Theodore Shapiro that helps drive it forward. The big plus is Gene Hackman, his presence here makes up for shortcomings in other areas, especially the end. It also has Rebecca Pidgeon, her style takes some getting used to, but that watchfulness and reserve gives her an enigmatic quality - she steals scenes.

Half the people in Mamet's films are cool - the others are marks. That controlling self-assurance verging on smugness worked well in "House of Games" but it gets a bit stretched here - it was definitely overstretched in "Spartan".

The film is loaded with distinctive Mamet speech patterns and rhythms - there are plenty of lines with a twist throughout the film - "My motherf#*ker's so cool, when he goes to bed, sheep count him".

"Heist" does have tension, but in the end it paints itself into a corner and opts for a "I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here" resolution. "Heist" came out around the same time as "The Score" with Robert DeNiro. They were both heist films with attitude. "The Score" works better. Director Frank Oz had a light touch and "The Score" has wit and even empathy for its characters. To be honest, these are elements missing from "Heist" - it's cynical and it's clever, and there is irony, but humour can be the crucial difference in a movie such as this.

If you are expecting a "House of Games" or a "Homicide", "Heist" just doesn't get there, however it has its moments before it simply runs out of puff.
5 out of 7 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
You know why the chicken crossed the road? Because the road crossed the chicken.
hitchcockthelegend4 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
8 out of 14 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Underrated - and frequently gripping - thriller
Leofwine_draca26 July 2016
Warning: Spoilers
One thing I can't stand are cynical critics who no longer take joy in the simple delights of cinema. Sadly, most critics were unfairly harsh with David Mamet's HEIST, another addition to the recent wave of "heist" movies currently doing the rounds at the local cinemas and video shops (others include OCEAN'S 11, DECEPTION, and THE SCORE). Despite the hackneyed storyline, the film offers much reward to viewers prepared to sit through it. For a start there's the witty, almost comedic script which focuses on wordplay and fleshes out characters to a point where realism is at an all time high. Then there's the plot, which twists and turns so many times with double, even triple crosses, that you can never quite guess what will happen next. One casualty as a result of these twists is that some of the situations seem a little unbelievable and there are one or two obvious holes in the plot, but these are easy to dismiss as inconsequential when there's so much else to enjoy. Watching a film with this much attention to detail and intelligence in the scripting and direction is a delight and a rare treat in modern cinema.

The casting is also excellent with uniformly good performances. Of course, the older, veteran performers are light-years ahead of their younger counterparts. Leading the way is Gene Hackman who seems thirty years younger in the part, more evidence that this underrated actor is a force to be reckoned with. I believe Hackman is past seventy these days but still going strong; his acting here is as good as ever and his sympathetic criminal makes the film worth watching. His foil is Danny DeVito, a long way from his earlier 'comedy' roles in the likes of TWINS, here playing a ruthless gangster with all of the loathsomeness he can fathom. Finally Delroy Lindo is on hand as a loyal aide, giving another of his brooding portrayals with some occasionally startling outbursts of violence. Ricky Jay has a small but sympathetic role whilst newcomer Sam Rockwell is suitably slimy as a creep.

The various set-pieces are superbly staged and I love how the actual heists are planned down to the smallest detail (take for example the opening gamble, which is cinema at its best in my opinion). The plane robbery is also highly suspenseful and Mamet keeps tension running high throughout the film. The finale is a rewarding shoot-out which is superbly choreographed and graceful, and provides some fitting – not to mention hilarious – payoffs for some of the villainous characters. Just about everything is great about this movie. Although there are no really big surprises and some of the twists are obvious (the concluding twist is just a joke, really) for the most part this is gripping stuff. Watch it and see.
6 out of 10 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
What was Mamet thinking..
jotix10016 November 2001
Frankly, the greatly over-rated David Mamet laid an egg with this film. I mean, did anyone out there care for these people? Not only that, but the story is so confusing and convoluted that it had a boring effect on me, as well as some of the people at the screening I attended. The plot runs into all kinds of directions without ever making sense. Why does Danny Devito repeats himself constantly in his screen portrayals? Why does Mamet insists in casting Rebeca Pidgeon in a role that doesn't add anything to the story or the film. Why bother with a female character at all? Patty Lupone is another wasted female in her 2 scenes. And as long as we're in the subject, why does he cast Ricky Jay in his last films? He's so untalented actor, as well as he's a great card player! Better leave him to play poker, not a bad guy! I wished that Gene Hackman and Delroy Lindo had better parts to play, but it wasn't meant to be. Sorry Mr. Mamet, maybe for your next film choose someone else's material, adapt it as brilliantly as you did with The Winslow Boy and try to work with the great Joe Mantegna, Bill Macy, Alec Baldwin and Alan Arkin again.
7 out of 12 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
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.
13 out of 18 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
A flop!
buiger10 December 2007
I have to say I totally disagree with most of the critics who have highly acclaimed this motion picture. As much as I like and admire Gene Hackman, I cannot but evaluate this movie as a flop.

It simply doesn't work for me, on almost any level: The story is bordering on the ridiculous, and is in any case totally unbelievable (it could have worked if the movie was a parody, but this film pretends to take itself seriously). Likewise, the characters are more like cartoons than flesh and blood, living people (in spite of a truly stellar cast) The camera and the soundtrack go by unnoticed, so nothing special there either. Last but not least, there are far too many loopholes in the plot for even children to take this film seriously. All in all, in my opinion this film is not even good escapist entertainment, but simply as stated beforehand, a flop.
6 out of 9 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
"I tried to imagine a fella smarter than myself. Then I tried to think, 'What would he do?'"
jzappa14 October 2011
The film is literally about a group of people who know exactly how to communicate and collaborate without even having to confer by speaking, confronted with a newcomer who doesn't speak that language at all, and probably couldn't to save his life, but they're nevertheless forced to deal with him. Mamet's twists aren't just "twists." They work at this fundamental level, for instance as they all work right under our noses to rid themselves early in the game of this unexpected liability, how every character knows what the other really means and implicitly goes along with it lock, stock and barrel. This greenhorn, in all seriousness, expresses his guileless lack of understanding of what would ordinarily be expected to be meant, let alone the real situation as regards to him. Later on, when chance comes back to bite them, leader of the pack takes a moment to think, then gives them tasks. His number two guy asks where he's going with this, to which he just replies, "Just listen." They often nod to each other from a distance and no one else sees. We've seen this done a lot, but not in this way too often: What is the idea that one is communicating that the other immediately acts upon? Hackman plays Joe "Cute as a Chinese Baby" Moore, a thief whose real passion is building boats. His crew comprises Bobby ("You know why the chicken crossed the road? 'Cause the road crossed the chicken.") and Pincus ("He's so cool, when he goes to bed, sheep count him."), and Joe's wife Fran, who "could talk her way out of a sunburn." They pull a big job, with one snag: Joe's face on security camera. Time to tow anchor and aim for ports, but not as per Mickey Bergman, who forces Joe into One Last Job, and insists he include his incompetent nephew Jimmy Silk, the sort of madcap who packs a gun in an unsafe neighborhood which wouldn't be that if he left.

The plot progresses through tangled altitudes of deception. Mamet adores magic, namely trickery, and this plot, like The Spanish Prisoner and House of Games, is a spectrum that refracts various realities conditional on how you're slanted at a given time. It also includes ample loads of criminal art, as in the minutiae of the opening diamond heist, and the way they appropriate gold ingots from a cargo plane later on.

Some critics disliked the particulars I loved most. We learn from professional opinion-pushers that some climactic gunplay could've profited from more stylized treatment, which is amazingly unwise. Are they suggesting they would've favored one of those according-to-Hoyle automated gunfights we're tired of after innumerable overhauls? What I love about this climactic gunfight is the way some of the characters are clumsy and uncomfortable. This is perhaps their first gunfight. DeVito skips into the line of fire frantically, "Let's just talk!" Earlier, you suddenly find a violent confrontation breaking out between Delroy Lindo and a few of DeVito's heavies, and then going right back to trying to talk things out, right out of the building. The care with which Hackman says, "He ain't gonna shoot me? Then he hadn't oughta point a gun at me. It's insincere." And the typical exactness of this exchange: "Hey, I'll be as quiet as an ant pissing on cotton." "I don't want you as quiet as an ant pissing on cotton. I want you as quiet as an ant not even thinking about pissing on cotton." I'm also confused by why critics harass Rebecca Pidgeon. Yes, she has a distinguishing delivery which is well-matched with Mametized dialogue: terse, abrupt, informal. Mamet enjoys creating anachronisms for her like when Joe says, "Nobody lives forever," and with pure deadpan she replies, "Frank Sinatra gave it a shot." She's not meant as a graceful classic noir succubus, though her character doesn't mind seizing that opportunity, but as a gutsy Anybodys sort who can't entirely be trusted. Mamet bothers to provide us with technique and inventiveness, and is criticized by professionals because his work doesn't come from an automated press.

Hackman is naturally a connoisseur at gristly, graying veterans and, oddly, has been throughout his career. He and Lindo make a home in their roles so effortlessly facing twists and double-crosses with down-to-earth authenticity. A makeshift rapport that assures us they've collaborated for quite a long time and are like-minded on all that counts, their knowing abbreviation is like an old stand-up's slang, guiding our interest away from the ruse. And DeVito is one of the most unfailingly amusing actors in American cinema, with an oomph that makes his dialogue throb. "I've just financialized the numbers," he rationalizes. He's not a bad guy here, simply an unethical capitalist glutton with risky affiliations.

And one may wonder why Pidgeon's Fran would do what she does after the truck collision, but it's because we can't be certain whether her final surprise is really her final surprise. And the film closes with one of the great movie smiles, maybe a little more at us than what's transpired. And we smile back, cheek to cheek, because it's still self-contained: This character knows the final surprise is not the final surprise. Heist is the brand of caper film that came before special effects supplanted sharpness, structure and dialogue. This movie is comprised of natural ingredients, not manufactured goods. With both heists, at the beginning and in the middle, major stakes are raised, because in spite of its practically record-setting amount of plot twists, it's about its characters.
6 out of 10 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
An error has occured. Please try again.

See also

Awards | FAQ | User Ratings | External Reviews | Metacritic Reviews

Recently Viewed