Heist movies, despite the fact that they've been around since the dawn of the movie industry, are still always exciting.
Movies build in a natural rhythm to a climax, and heists are just the same. It establishes the characters, what's at stake, who's against them, how they're going to do it, and then showing us how they did it.
Here's 10 of the best examples of heist movies.
10. 'THE BANK JOB'
Yes, Jason Statham is primarily known for nowadays for ridiculous heist movies like 'Fast and Furious', but 'The Bank Job' is the one that's markedly different from his later work. What's more, it's based on semi-real events. Statham plays an ex-crook trying to go straight in the early '70s who's convinced by a former lover (Saffron Burrows) into knocking over a bank that houses a safe deposit facility. Why that particular bank and that particular safe deposit? As it turns out, a radical militant has compromising photos of a British Royal that he plans on using as leverage against the government. Why is Burrows doing this? Because she's been caught smuggling drugs. It's all about the double-crosses and the heist, but what makes this more interesting is that it's supposedly based on a measure of truth. A safety deposit bank was, in fact, robbed in '70s London and it was suspected for many years to involve a British royal. Saucy.
9. 'THE FIRST GREAT TRAIN ROBBERY'
Sean Connery. Donald Sutherland. Playing Victorian gentlemen who try to rob a huge amount of gold intended to pay for the British Army in the Crimean War. And what's more, it was almost entirely filmed in Ireland. 'The First Great Train Robbery' is one of those classic romps, much like Focus, that it's all about the finesse and the sheer brass neck to pull off a completely daring robbery. Keep an eye out for Heuston Station and a few other places in Dublin making little cameo appearances.
8. 'SEXY BEAST'
Although Sexy Beast is primarily known for Ben Kingsley's unhinged performance as Don Logan, 'Sexy Beast' was far more than just one performance. Ray Winstone gives, for our money, the best performance of his career as Gal - a former safecracker who's retired to Spain with his wife, content of leaving the criminal world behind. When Kingsley calls out of the blue and attempts to convince him to do a job, he must out of... well, we don't want to ruin it. Jonathan Glazer, he of 'Under The Skin' fame, directs a glossily-made, high-concept heist movie that's not really about a heist. Definitely recommended.
7. 'INSIDE MAN'
Heist movies often incorporate elements from others, be it comedy, drama or even horror. Inside Man, however, mixes the heist movie with the hostage movie. An odd, commercially-viable film by Spike Lee, it stars Denzel Washington as the hostage negotiator and Clive Owen as the mastermind behind the hostage situation. From the very get-go, you're trying to think one step ahead of Owen's plan. He forcibly locks himself into a bank, takes hostages and has no ready means of escape. Yet, he's supremely confident he can pull it all off. How?
When the concept of 'Inception' was first announced, and the idea of it being "set inside the architecture of the mind", you really couldn't picture it. Leonardo DiCaprio plays Cobb, the world's best extractor. What's extraction? Entering people's minds via their dreams and stealing ideas and thoughts. Again, before the movie, that concept would have seem laughable, yet 'Inception' made it seem real by grounding it in heist movie tropes and making it familiar, so as to cushion the out-there idea of dream-stealing.
Michael Mann's built a career around highly-researched, well-planned movie. In fact, you could almost argue that he plans and plots them out like heists. 'Thief', his first feature movie, sees James Caan as an expert cat burglar and safecracker who's coerced into teaming up with a violent mobster. Caan, like all good burglars, is working on his final job before he can retire. Featuring a scorching soundtrack by Tangerine Dream, 'Thief' oozes cool and showcases many of the visual flourishes that Mann would use again in 'Heat', 'Collateral' and 'The Insider'.
Robert Redford leads a team of misfits (River Phoenix, David Straithairn, Dan Aykroyd, Sidney Poitier) who have what would be deemed an interesting job - they're hired by banks to test the strength of their security systems by breaking into them. When his team is hired by an unknown party to steal a seemingly innocuous item from a tech company, they unknowingly walk into a secret operation by the US government and steal a code-breaking device. Slick, stylish and often hilarious, Sneakers is one of the best heist films of the early '90s.
3. 'THE ITALIAN JOB'
Michael Caine. The Mini Cooper. Sixties Rome and London. If ever a movie oozed cool in every scene, it's either this or the next entry. Caine plays a career criminal who takes on a simple job - except it's not so simple. With the help of a few fellow criminals, a couple of Mini Coopers and a lot of chutzpah, they'll steal £4 million worth of Chinese gold. It's since become a classic British film, but just don't mention the Mark Wahlberg remake. Ever.
2. 'OCEAN'S ELEVEN'
Like all good heist movies, 'Ocean's Eleven' had a high-concept setup with smart, well-dressed players and a glittering locale for the whole thing to take place in. Brad Pitt, George Clooney and the concept of stealing a Las Vegas casino seems like a fit, right? It's since become a modern classic, with Steven Soderbergh's sharp direction and David Holmes' iconic soundtrack all lifting career-highlight performances from all concerned. Even the sort-of spiritual sequel, 'Logan Lucky', had just as much going for it as this did.
No discussion about heist movies can be complete or even taken seriously without mentioning 'Heat' and placing it somewhere near the top. It's inspired videogames and movies with its perfectly-executed heist scenes - our favourite is the armoured van at the start - and top performances by Robert DeNiro, Al Pacino and Val Kilmer. DeNiro plays an expert criminal who leaves an ordered life with no attachments whilst Pacino plays the single-minded cop out to finally stop him. Intense and focused, but also achingly human in places, 'Heat' is simply incredible. If you've never watched it, rectify that right now.