Heist movies are cinema’s answer to an action thriller party, raising tension and keeping viewers guessing until their big reveal.
Some casino thieves remain hidden from police, while others like Jose Vigoa and Oscar Sanchez Cisneros have an extensive record, which includes murdering armored truck drivers.
Sidney Lumet’s Ocean’s Eleven is widely considered one of the greatest heist films ever. At first dismissed as just another Rat Pack vanity project, Ocean’s Eleven went on to gain critical acclaim and gross $450 million worldwide. Boasting an outstanding cast and script – Ocean’s Eleven stands as an icon among heist films.
The plot follows Danny, an ex-con newly released from prison who immediately approaches Rusty about pulling off an unprecedented casino heist plan during a boxing match in three Las Vegas casinos to make away with an enormous sum of cash.
In order to accomplish this goal, the team covertly modifies each hotel’s backup electrical systems so they can open money cages as soon as the generator kicks in at midnight on New Year’s Eve. They plant demolition charges on power transmission towers and set their backup electrical systems so that when blackout occurs they’ll open automatically.
As they progress, the crew sifts through personal baggage and relationships to identify which members have what it takes to achieve an impossible mission. This model was then replicated by directors like Quentin Tarantino in Reservoir Dogs, Steven Soderbergh in Ocean’s Twelve, and so forth.
Steven Soderbergh’s 2001 hit film was an entertaining blend of style and humor, reminding audiences that big movie stars with senses of humor could still make audiences laugh. Unfortunately, that wasn’t enough to counterbalance its painfully self-aware jokes in this follow up; which plays out like an extended talk show intro featuring beautiful European locales (Amsterdam, Lake Como). Even George Clooney looked bored by this half-baked caper.
Danny Ocean and his crew of master thieves had been enjoying life after their $160 million casino heist from Vegas casino owner Terry Benedict; but when he demands its return in two weeks–plus interest–they must scramble for another job quickly. From Amsterdam to Paris to Rome, Ocean’s eleven plus one (Catherine Zeta-Jones) attempt to coordinate their next move while staying one step ahead of Europol police detective Isabelle Lahiri as well as another thief named Night Fox.
Although less ambitious in scope than Ocean’s Eleven and Twelve, Ocean’s Thirteen is still an exciting heist story. George Clooney excels as Danny, an ex-con who must gather his friends together after being double-crossed by casino owner Willy Bank (Elliott Gould). Andy Garcia reprises his role of Terry Benedict for comic relief.
The heist itself is complex and well-planned: Saul Bloom poses as a board reviewer, convincing Bank to treat him like a VIP while Basher (Don Cheadle) creates an obstacle that allows the FBI to access and alter records without detection.
Ocean’s Thirteen stands apart from other heist movies by playing more freely with genre conventions. For instance, it opens with burning dollar bills to establish what happened during and after the heist; also more visible than in other films is their planning as conversations and actions are captured on camera; more screen time is given over to bickering brothers Virgil and Turk Malloy who provide both humor and much-needed balance to more bombastic members of their team.