This weekend sees the release of Ocean’s Eight, a reboot of the heist franchise (itself a remake of a classic Rat Pack film from the 60’s), this time featuring a stellar cast of actresses poised to make a big score. Heist films are a hell of a lot of fun – especially when they merge genres…
As we’ve discussed previously in our Friday Five column, lots of genre films and shows focus on that particular plot device called the MacGuffin in order to drive plot; sometimes, MacGuffins are certainly a part of your heist film tapestry. (We’ll highlight a few of those in a minute.) Other times, they’re just in it for a crap-ton of money. (Or fortune, or fame… or all of the above.) We thought it would be fun to run down some of the best heist flicks that cross over with scifi and fantasy. (Plus, an action franchise and a film so delightfully frenetic that you could be forgiven for considering them kinda fantasy, in their own way. 😉 )
Probably the prestige example of a genre heist film of the past decade. (And that’s not a pun because Christopher Nolan also made The Prestige. Okay, maybe a little bit.) Beyond the tremendous cast, the eye-popping visuals and the breathtaking tension, what’s so fun about Inception’s premise is that it takes the heist components of its plot – Leonardo DiCaprio and crew infiltrate people’s subsconscious to steal information – and immediately turns it on its head, making the film’s big op about implanting an idea, something that according to the film’s science is improbably difficult. Knowing the stakes (DiCaprio’s freedom to return to his children is in play, not to mention, you know, everyone’s lives) only builds upon the impact of the film’s aesthetic wonders. And no, we haven’t stopped going BRAUUUUUM! every so often either.
We get it, this doesn’t seem to fit the profile at all. And no, we’re not trying to make a giant leap owing to the fact that both Wonder Woman and Groot are in it! However, for all the super-dedicated high-octane car chase fans that have flocked to the Fast and the Furious franchise since its inception, it’s absolutely gained a place among those film series that fans get super-duper-hyped over and flock to geek out over the sheer adrenaline. It’s had its share of emotional highs (Hello and welcome, The Rock!) and lows (RIP, Paul Walker 🙁 ), and perhaps none of the series to date has the supercharged heist rush of that moment where the loot – all of it, the entire damn vault – is strapped in and along for the ride.
Perhaps the smartest turn of events in the development of Marvel’s Ant-Man movie came from original director Edgar Wright and his co-writer Joe Cornish, in choosing not to focus on comics’ original Ant-Man, Hank Pym (though as portrayed by Michael Douglas, he does play a big role), but on Scott Lang, the reformed thief who took up the mantle beginning in the late 70’s. Though Wright departed the project and Peyton Reed took over, the dynamic remained and with Paul Rudd the perfect actor to make a dude with a shady past incredibly endearing, we got a hugely entertaining heist film with a MacGuffin at the core of the MCU mythology, worthy of Marvel’s tiniest (some of the time anyway) hero. And let’s be honest, more heist movies could benefit from Michael Peña monologuin’ like crazy.
Speaking of Edgar Wright! – last year the director delivered the car-chase film he’d been dreaming up for years, ever since this pretty epic Mint Royale music video he directed gave him the concept. Not unlike Fast Five, this one might not immediately seem like it fits the bill of this list (barring Wright’s serious genre cred, of course); nevertheless, a bigger fan’s love letter to car chases and, especially, music you’re not likely to find anywhere. While the storyline is somewhat more slight than his previous efforts, the absolutely insane camera and stunt work plus a near-perfect soundtrack of excellent tunes that very clearly evolved in Wright’s playlist for a long time before shooting make this as geeky a heist flick as they come.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Yes, of course, the most recent entry into the ongoing Star Wars anthology series is all about that heist life, the one that introduced a headstrong Corellian kid into his path toward destiny. But if we had to choose the prime example of the genre from Star Wars canon there’s really no question: It’s Rogue One. The Death Star plans are the original MacGuffin in this world, and one of the best of all time; it’s this very heist that set in motion the entire original trilogy, a story that lingered in the background of the Skywalker saga to remind us all that lives were on the line in a struggle for peace and freedom. Rogue One is both exhilirating and far and away the most somber of Star Wars films, and with good reason; Jyn Erso and her crew pulled off the most spectacular heist in the galaxy, with great consequences… and at great cost.