There is something inherently fascinating to people about bank robberies and good heist movies are hard to come by, so here we collected 10 best heist movies for your weekend pleasure.
The Killing (1956)
Though only Stanley Kubrick‘s second feature-length narrative film, The Killing, showed how adept he already was with a camera and with editing. The film finds itself within a lot of the tropes of noir-heist stories, though creating some of them, and sees a team of different people assembled by a career criminal who is planning “the big one” before he retires. Even further, the film takes twists and turns that audiences might not expect from early movies and has the kind of gut punch ending that cemented it as a classic.
The Sting (1973)
Set in The Great Depression, the film sees a twisted web of con men and tricks intertwine to deliver one of the most mind-bending switch-a-roos in heist movies. Corrupt police men, horse race betting, cheating at cards, and a dynamic one-two punch in Robert Redford and Paul Newman, The Sting was inspired by real-life events. The film also went on to win seven Academy Awards, including Best Writing, Best Director, and Best Picture.
Dog Day Afternoon (1975)
Speaking of inspired by real-life events, Dog Day Afternoon tells the story of two thieves that find themselves with their backs against the wall in a way that only bank robbers can. Something about the Robin Hood-style of crime that is robbing banks makes audiences immediately root for the characters, but when you make as many mistakes as Al Pacino’s Sonny and John Cazale’s Sal do, it starts to test your patience. The characters arrive at the bank after all the money has been collected, meaning they risked their lives and prison for barely $1000, and things don’t get easier after that. It is also based on a true story.
Point Break (1991)
A quintessentially ’90s movies, Point Break positions the world of bank robbers with a group of surfers and puts an undercover cop in the middle of it all. Academy Award winner Kathryn Bigelow has a diverse series of films on her resume, but Point Break is one of the wilder ones she’s created. Featuring the all-star cast of Keanu Reeves, Patrick Swayze, and Gary Busey.
Reservoir Dogs (1992)
Quentin Tarantino’s debut feature does the thing that no other heist movie dares to do, not actually show the heist. The film is positioned entirely around the event but never explicitly shows the heist itself. All we know is what we learn from the characters, and what we naturally assume given Mr. Orange’s gun shot in the stomach. In fact, the film specializes in what we don’t see, focusing on non-linear storytelling and cutting away from the more gruesome bits. Its characters are brought to life by an incredible ensemble cast, including Tim Roth, Harvey Keitel, Steve Buscemi, Michael Madsen, Chris Penn, and Lawrence Tierney, who all bring their A game.
The Usual Suspects (1995)
Another non-traditional heist movie, The Usual Suspects (like Reservoir Dogs before it) utilizes an ensemble cast and a non-linear framing device in Kevin Spacey’s Verbal recounting the tale of the past few weeks to some police officers. What really makes The Usual Suspects special is how it boggles the mind of the viewer while watching it and after its completed. Spinning a yarn that we’re equal parts engrossed and perplexed by and never giving us all of the answers, but making sure that we know we don’t actually need them all in the end anyway. It’s a pretty great trick.
This is my all time favorite heist movie, Just a few months after The Usual Suspects would come Michael Mann’s masterpiece. The film depicts both sides of the heist world with Al Pacino and Robert De Niro as the two sides of the coin. Both leads confront each other in a coffee shop at one point, creating one of the most tense moments in a heist movie that doesn’t feature a gun, but Heat really sings when it gets to its explosive finale which is so influential that its still the bar that heist movies have to clear.
Best British heist movie, Following the success of his other caper Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Guy Ritchie brought us Snatch, the tale of two intertwined plots regarding a stolen diamond and a down-on-his-luck boxing promoter. Though some of his other fare may lead you to think otherwise, Jason Statham delivers a phenomenal performance in the film perhaps because he’s purely in his element as a man of the London streets. Snatch also features the likes of Vinnie Jones, Benicio del Toro, and Brad Pitt in its network of criminals as hilarious as they are deadly.
Ocean’s 11 (2001)
There’s only one way to consistently top your predecessors in the heist genre, and that’s get bigger. Ocean’s 11 not only does that with its plot, which sees the team hitting three Las Vegas casinos simultaneously, but in its ensemble cast, which includes George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Don Cheadle, Bernie Mac, Scott Caan, Casey Affleck, Carl Reiner, Elliott Gould, Andy García and Julia Roberts.
Inside Man (2006)
If you love the heist movies, This one you shouldn’t miss by any means. You might have noticed a recurring theme on this list — non-linear storytelling, ensemble casts, multiple plot threads that tie together, and mind boggling twist endings — and Inside Man has them all. Clive Owen and Denzel Washington square off as thief Dalton Russel and Detective Keith Frazier in the film which is equal parts chess game as it is crime caper. It might surprise some that the film is directed by Spike Lee.