Video: Epic Movie Heists

With Ocean's 8 now in cinemas, it's the perfect time to pull off an epic heist.

The illustrious ‘Ocean’s’ franchise has returned to the big screen with its new instalment, Ocean’s 8 – 17 years after the original feature, Ocean’s Eleven. Notably fronted by an all-female cast, the film has already received considerable attention and we are all interested to see this revamp and advocate some girl power. And if this comedy heist movie is up your street – we’ve selected some epic movie heists from the past to indulge in after…

Heat (1995)

Fronted by a triple threat of Al Pacino, Robert De Niro and Val Kilmer, Heat is a compelling and action-packed crime-drama where the heist incites a story of mindless revenge. The beauty of this heist, is the calm and collected way in which the heist itself takes place and the contrasting chaos that ensues.

De Niro’s character McCauley oversees a perfect robbery, keeping the hostages on side and executing it cleanly, but they are intercepted by the police, resulting in one of the most awesome movie shootouts of all time. This heist surprises with an all-out street shootout full of noise, blood, collateral damage and plenty of mindless civilians bundling through the crossfire. Like a good dessert – it is the aftermath of this epic heist which makes it a stand out sequence.   

Ocean’s Eleven (2001)

The film that started the franchise that will now span at least 17 years, Ocean’s Eleven was a masterclass in heist movies. Not only was it headed up by a stellar cast consisting of George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Julia Roberts, Matt Damon Don Cheadle and Andy Garcia, but this feature demonstrated exactly how to drip-feed information to the viewer to build tension. George Clooney’s character Danny Ocean falls back on a classic plan for getting at his ex-wife’s new boyfriend: recruiting eleven men to rob the new squeeze’s casino.

Ocean recruits a pretty useful squad including a casino worker, a couple of mechanics, explosive and electronics experts, an elderly con man and an acrobat. And whilst the plan for the heist is introduced at the start of the film, it isn’t until the heist happens that the audience learns exactly what Ocean’s team of eleven had planned. Proving that succeeding to plan is planning to succeed.

Inside Man (2006)

If you are not only a fan of heist-movies, but also a fan of a killer twist then Spike Lee’s Inside Man should be on your watch list. The film begins with Clive Owen’s character, Dalton Russell, claiming he committed the ‘perfect robbery’ – a claim a lot of the films on this list seem to make.

When a group of masked robbers, all mysteriously called some sort of variation on Steve (a great choice, by the way) break into a bank – Detective Keith Frazier (played by the brilliant Denzel Washington) is assigned to the case. Frazier is looking for redemption from a previous scandal and is determined to stop the heist. For added complexity, Jodie Foster also arrives with her usual side-kick of sass as Madeline White, a ‘fixer’ with an entirely different motive for keeping the goods out of Russell’s hands. With multiple agendas at play, it becomes clear that this bank robbery is not all that it seems and it finishes with an ending you’ll never see coming – unless you have an inside man yourself who has fed you spoilers.

The Italian Job (1969)

The 1969 The Italian Job is a true classic and often ranked in the best British films of all time. And perhaps one of its most iconic sequences is the heist and its playfully brilliant car chase. As far as heists go – this one is incredibly original in tone with the robbers comically filling up their cars with gold in snazzy jumpsuits, whilst chaos builds outside thanks to their coordinated traffic jam.

After this drama ensues one of the most memorable car-chases in cinematic history begins with the three Mini Cooper’s making a comedic getaway accompanied by jaunty music. The minis utilise their size to zip through shopping arcades, up and down stairs and over a footbridge – heist aside it becomes a pretty lovely road trip. Finally, they escape through a sewer (we spoke to soon) and head back into the mountains. This heist has a huge sense of scale and tension whilst maintaining a fun and upbeat feel that has probably never been matched by any heist since. And you won’t be able to get that song out of your head either!

Fast Five (2011)

The fifth instalment in the lucrative and seemingly endless Fast and Furious franchise, Fast Five saw Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, Vin Deisel and Paul Walker return for more high-octane action and inconceivable feats than ever before. When Paul Walker’s character finds his partner is pregnant, the boys decide the only conceivable plan is to perform a huge heist for a hidden $100 million sum in order to start a new life – because, of course, to raise a baby on any less than 100 million would be an inconceivable feat. 

Rather than taking the perfect plan, perfectly executed approach seen in most of the heists on this list – this team… well they don’t really have much of a plan at all. Bolstering their way through to the building to get to the vault in a hench car which can seemingly break through anything – the team unceremoniously drag the vault away. Bullets, police cars, walls, motorcycles – nothing is a match for a team with one destination and a ….rough idea of how they are getting there. Perhaps not top points for ingenuity, but you won’t feel short-changed on action and excitement. And whatever the approach, the team execute a thrilling heist and then presumably went off to buy a million dollar pram..

The Killing (1956)

Stanley Kubrick’s 1956 film noir The Killing portrays a criminal carrying out his last hurrah-heist before settling down – a bit like the Fast Five really. However, unlike the Fast Five Johnny Clay plans on stealing a mere $2 million dollars from a racetrack. (You could only raise 1/50th of a baby on that!) Moving on – Clay puts together an epic and slightly random heist team including a sharpshooter and a wrestler to carry off his final robbery.

What follows is a brilliantly realistic heist at the race course, including bumbling old gents doing a bad job of filling a sack with money and a strange but pleasing jazzy soundtrack. There is the usual scattering of bodies in the aftermath and get away, but what is different about Kubrick’s heist movie compared to others on this list is our protagonist doesn’t achieve the perfect heist. As Clay and his wife attempt to escape with a large suitcase full of the money on a plane with the police in pursuit, they are forced to put the suitcase in the hold, watch the suitcase fall off the conveyor belt and the money is symbolically swept away by the plane’s turbines. Which teaches us all a valuable life lesson… about budget airline luggage restrictions. 

So there we have it – some other epic heists from cinematic history from the slick and sharp to the absurd and ridiculous. Are there any other epic movie heists you think should be on this list? Let us know in the comments below. 

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