The Best Heist Movies of All Time

The classic heist movie has been a staple genre in Hollywood for decades. A close-knit team of criminals planning to make off with the haul of their lives. Sounds familiar, right?

Yet despite the fact that most modern heist films are all based on this similar premise, that doesn’t make them any less enjoyable. There are certainly a few films that stand out from the crowd, not to mention standing the test of time incredibly well. We’ve grouped together three main categories – the bank heist, the casino heist and the gang heist – and selected the most honourable mentions within each. Let’s dive straight in.

The Bank Heist – Reservoir Dogs

A heist movie like no other, it’s easy to forget that Reservoir Dogs was Quentin Tarantino’s first foray into the world of directing. In many ways it set the tone for Tarantino’s reputation as an auteur: unconventional, violent and unique. When you think of the standard heist movie, you think of three main sections: the plan, the execution and the aftermath. Reservoir Dogs almost completely does away with the ‘main’ second section, jumping between the events before and after the heist.

In doing so, we get a completely different take on the characters involved, their motivations and their allegiances. It’s a film where, for the most part, the action takes a back seat to the dialogue. We’re also still hoping for that Vega Brothers movie that’s long been talked about.

The Casino Heist – Ocean’s Eleven

Arguably the film that sparked the entire heist movie trend, Ocean’s Eleven was an immediate sensation upon its release back in 1960. Of course, the younger among us may be more familiar with the 2001 remake, starring the likes of George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Matt Damon. The remake stands on its own as a modern classic, transporting us back to the glitz and glamour of the Las Vegas Strip. We get a more in-depth look at the way modern casinos operate, specifically the Bellagio, The Mirage and the MGM Grand. It’s hard to find a more thrilling setting than that.

More recently, the legacy of the Ocean’s series has even reached beyond the silver screen into the rapidly evolving world of iGaming, with sites offering a range of heist-inspired games that draw on elements from Ocean’s Eleven, perfect for any film fan looking to get a taste of the casino heist thrill for themselves.

The Gang Heist – Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels

Another debut film from one of the most important British directors of the past few decades, Guy Ritchie. The film helped launch the careers of the likes of Jason Statham and Vinnie Jones, not to mention Ritchie himself. Interesting to think that it might not have been made if it wasn’t for a little help from Tom Cruise.

Loaded with unforgettable characters and a great soundtrack, Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels follows the path of a group of young schemers on a mission to repay the £100,000 they lost to an East London card-shark. It’s one of those films that leaves the audience wondering just who will come out on top.

So, there we have it, three top movies from three main genres of heist film. We’d be tempted to say we’ve seen it all, but the evolving nature of the heist movie probably means there’s much more to come.

Blu-ray Review “Tower Heist”

Directed by: Brett Ratner
Starring: Ben Stiller, Mathew Broderick, Eddie Murphy, Alan Alda, Casey Affleck
Distributed by: Universal Pictures
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Release Date: February 21, 2012
Running Time: 104 minutes

Film: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 3.5 out of 5 stars

At first view of this film, I really had no interest in seeing it at all. My wife on the other hand nudged me into seeing it. I actually happened to enjoy it quite a bit. I mean with a cast like Ben Stiller, Mathew Broderick, Eddie Murphy, Alan Alda and Casey Affleck…it would have to be good. Each actors really shines and delivers a great performance. Well the film has some faults but definitely packs the comedy as well as the action. Especially the film gets started, which takes about a solid 40 minutes, that’s when it really shines. When I was watching I couldn’t help but compare this to “Ocean’s Eleven” but in a apartment complex. Although not as good as that film, it still deliver a very entertaining experience.

The follows Josh Kovacs (Stiller) who is the manager of “The Tower”, which is a high-profile apartment location in Manhattan. His job is to make sure that the tower’s residents are perfectly accommodated, including financier Arthur Shaw (Alan Alda). Though Shaw gets arrested by the FBI for investing fraud. Kovacs realizes that his staff’s pensions are gone since he asked Shaw to manage them. He confronts Shaw and ends up loosing his job. Kovas devises a plan to help his staff by planning to rob Shaw’s hidden money of $20 million dollars. In order to do that he recruits a motley crew group (including Matthew Broderick, Casey Affleck, Michael Peña, Gabourey Sidibe, and Eddie Murphy). Of course things go array on the groups plans and issues arise.

The Blu-ray presentation and package are great. The color are very sharp and really detailed. The audio is also very impressive with its DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track especially during the heist scenes. Includes in this release besides the Blu-ray, is a DVD copy of the film as well. There is also an Ultraviolet streaming digital copy of the film. Some more great features on this Blu-ray include the “U-Control Experience” which includes a Picture-in-Picture experience and a “Music of Tower Heist” feature. Also if you have an iPad/tablet, PC or Mac you can take advantage of the “Second Screen Interactive Experience”.

The special features are quite impressive for this release. There is a funny yet very informative audio commentary with director Brett Ratner, editor Mark Helfrich and co-writers Ted Griffin and Jeff Nathanson. “Brett Ratner’s Video Diary” is a very in-depth look inside the production with the director, pretty cool footage included also. “Plotting Tower Heist” is a six part behind-the-scenes documentary, which runs about 45 minutes. The parts are split up into the following: “The Ratner/Grazer Connection, Parts One, Two and Three,” “The Conspirators,” “Set Pieces” and “The Car.” There are a bunch of additional footage including two alternate endings, the first called “15 Months Later” and second called “Lester’s Bar,” which should have made the final cut for sure! There are nine deleted/alternate scenes, which run just over 5 minutes are a hit or miss. Lastly there is a funny gag reel included to top off the great features.

Film Review “Tower Heist”

Starring: Ben Stiller, Eddie Murphy and Alan Alda
Directed by: Brett Ratner
Rated: PG 13
Running time: 1 hour 44 mins

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

To the current generation of filmgoers, Eddie Murphy is best known as the voice of Donkey in the “Shrek” films.

To another, he’s known for some horrible films, including “Imagine That,” “The Adventures of Pluto Nash,” “Norbit,” “Meet Dave”…the list goes on. With the exception of his Oscar nominated performance in “Dreamgirls” (and as much as I love Alan Arkin, I’ve got to say that Eddie was robbed on Oscar night), he hasn’t made a good live-action film in almost a decade.

To my generation, he is remembered as one of the brightest comedy stars to ever hit Hollywood. Beginning with “48 Hours” and then following up with such popular films as “Trading Places,” “Beverly Hills Cop” and “Coming to America,” Murphy was the standard that all other comedians were compared to. As he celebrates his 50th birthday it gives me great pleasure to say, “Welcome back, Eddie!”

Josh Kovacs (Stiller) is a busy man. As building manager of The Tower, a pricey condo building in New York City, he is constantly making sure his overly pampered tenants stay happy. Especially Arthur Shaw (Alda), who occupies the penthouse and spends his mornings in the rooftop pool. When Shaw is arrested by the FBI for fraud (think Bernie Madoff), Kovacs reveals to his staff that he had entrusted Shaw with their pension fund which, if the FBI is right, is now worthless. Angered and outraged, Josh hatches a plan with some of his co-workers to rob Shaw of the money he’s stolen and, presumably, hidden in a secret safe in his penthouse. Now he just has to find himself “someone who steals.”

Part heist film, part comedy, “Tower Heist” is an enjoyable ride that boasts no less than five Oscar nominees among the cast. Written by Ted Griffin (“Ocean’s Eleven”) and Jeff Nathanson (“Catch Me If You Can”), “Tower Heist” is a film that rides on the shoulders of its talented cast. Stiller is his usual solid self, while Casey Affleck plays a variation of his “Ocean’s Eleven” character. Alda chews the scenery as the architect of the Ponzi scheme that destroys not only a pension fund but the lives it was supposed to fuel. In his second humorous performance this year, following “30 Minutes or Less,” Michael Pena’ continues to surprise on screen. Matthew Broderick, Judd Hirsch and Tea Leoni fill out the main cast, all of them delivering solid work. But it is Murphy, seemingly channeling himself playing Billy Ray Valentine in “Trading Places,” that steals the show here. It’s so nice to see a funny Eddie Murphy on the big screen again. I welcome him back and hope he’s back to stay.

With the current Occupy Wall Street” movement happening in this country, “Tower Heist” is a very relevant film for these times. The script is full of sharp observances and some hilarious scenes, including one where a discussion of the movie “The Doberman Gang” evolves into “The Boys from Brazil” which in turn evolves into “Boys Don’t Cry.”