Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Heist (2001)

An underrated crime classic from David Mamet 

Few cinematic pleasures can compare to a brilliant cast of talented actors allowed to practice their craft using a great script and being guided by the assured hand of an ace director who understands something about storytelling and movie making. Heist, the 2001 crime thriller from playwright-screenwriter-director David Mamet is one among them if not one of the very best. At the risk of sounding like a wuss, it's enough to make you cry. 

Gene Hackman stars as an aging thief who manages to get caught on camera during what was supposed to be his last caper. Complicating matters is the fact that Hackman's fence (Danny DeVito) has screwed him out of his share of the loot, forcing our againg hero to take on one last heist. 

While the plot is as old and hackneyed as they come, Mamet breathes new life into a tired formula, bringing the twists, turns and betrayals that have become the trademark of his best work (House of Games, The Spanish Prisoner.). 

But the other thing that makes the film really work is the aging cast, which includes Hackman, Delroy Lindo, DeVito and Ricky Jay. These older men, with their lifeworn faces, are cut from the same cloth as action and noir heroes of the past, like Lee Marvin and Robert Mitchum, and prove that Hollywood's crop of young Turks (Sam Rockwell here) can't hold a candle to men old enough to be their fathers (or maybe even grandfathers).

And while Heist, may not bring a tear to your eye, it will bring a smile of gratitude to your face, because Mamet never assumes his audience is so stupid they need their hands held. A very enjoyable crime film! Less said, the better!

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