Great Heist Movies


I’ve always enjoyed heist films.  Some of it is rooting for the bad guy, and some of it is the cleverness with which the capers are pulled off.  With that in mind, here are some of my favorite heist movies.

Three Kings (1999)

Three Kings

A non-traditional heist movie in that it takes place during the end of the First Gulf War.  Starring George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg, and Ice Cube, the film follows them as they attempt to steal gold that Suddam had stolen from Kuwait.  While they don’t appear to get away with the gold, the lengths they go to, the planning, and the unique location make it a great heist movie.

Reservoir Dogs (1992)

Reservoir Dogs

Another non-traditional heist movie in that we never actually see the heist.  We’re introduced to the characters before the heist, and see what happens after the heist goes bad, but we never actually see what happened.  This was Quentin Tarantino’s debut as a director and was applauded for it’s non-linear style, while being criticized for its use of profanity and violence.

The Italian Job (2003)

The Italian Job

A remake of the 1969 film of the same name, The Italian Job stars Mark Wahlberg and Charlize Theron as thieves working to get back gold stolen from them by a former associate played by Ed Norton.  Fast action, clever methods of stealing, and an all-star cast made this a hit movie that is said to have a sequel in the works.

Ronin (1998)


Not since The French Connection have we seen car chases like this one.  Robert DeNiro and Jean Reno lead a team sent to recover a heavily guarded briefcase with a cast of characters with constantly shifting loyalties.  Betrayals, gun fights, and car chases drive the storyline.  The contents of the briefcase are never revealed, making this film similar to Reservoir Dogs in that there’s an element of mystery to what the true purpose of the crime is.

The Thomas Crown Affair (1999)

The Thomas Crown Affair

Another remake, this time starring Pierce Brosnan and Rene Russo.  A high-end art theft leads Rene Russo’s character to investigate Brosnan’s Thomas Crown, leading to romance, betrayal, and one of the slickest heist scenes ever as Crown attempts to return the stolen painting.  Some would argue this was Brosnan’s warm-up to his next Bond film at the time, and if so, it was a great warm-up.

Ocean’s 11 (2001)

Ocean's 11

And we have another George Clooney appearance.  A remake of the classic Rat Pack film, it sparked a trilogy of movies and showed just how cool George and his friends really are.  Much like The Italian Job, the criminals in the film are classy, intelligent, and above such petty things as guns and violence.  Stealing money because they enjoy the chase as much as anything, and because they don’t have anything else they’re good at.  Ocean’s 11 made us all want to get together some friends and go knock over a casino while wearing designer suits.

Heat (1995)


This movie was practically a recruiting video for becoming a criminal.  The dialogue, the action, the all-star cast – it even “inspired” two men to rob a bank using automatic weapons and heavy body armor.  And they almost got away with it.  The interactions between DeNiro and Pacino are classic and just reinforce why these two are stars in Hollywood.  If you haven’t seen this movie, go watch it, and I promise you’ll have at least one moment where you think you could rob a bank.

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