Cinemalphabet: H is for Heist (2001)
In 2001 there seemed to be no shortage of heist flavored films: The Score, Ocean’s Eleven and David Mamet’s Heist. Heist crept into theaters sandwiched between the summer sleeper The Score and the holiday feel goodery Ocean’s Eleven and of the three, Heist is the most satisfying to watch in terms of what it brings to the table as a heist flick. I love all three, but Score is too serious; Oceans too silly.
Gene Hackman leads an all star cast of grown folk competing for the award for most gravitas. Delroy Lindo plays a thoughtful, intelligent, earnest thief rather than a thoughtful, intelligent, earnest cop. Sam Rockwell seems to be playing himself, Rebecca Pidgeon’s the girl. Ricky Jay is the comic relief, but don’t tell that to Danny Devito who seems to be under the impression that every line of dialog falling out of his mouth is so brilliantly hilarious it must be repeated in case the cheap seats didn’t hear it when he shouted it the first time.
If you’re not into Mamet’s penchant for verbosity, Heist might be a bit of a struggle to get through. Despite having a scant 109 minute running time, very little of it is devoted to certain elements most folks have come to associate with heist films; namely, a heist. Oh sure there are double, triple and quadruple crosses. Bars of gold! Patti Lupone! Dogs and cats living together and all kinds of harshed mellows. But since Mamet presses your nose close to the action it’s difficult to step back and assess what the hell is going on. That is if you can pick up the heist related jargon from the first frame. The performances are so cool and the dialog so snappy at times you might question if you’re awesome enough to even watch this movie? Most likely, you’re not. This is one cool movie. So cool that it doesn’t even have to center its narrative on a heist despite calling itself Heist.