HEIST Send This Review to a Friend
A classy and earthy crime caper film, "Heist," which played at the Toronto International Film Festival (2001), stars veterans Gene Hackman, Danny DeVito and Delroy Lindo, as well as Sam Rockwell, Rebecca Pidgeon and Ricky Jay, in a tale of double-crossing and danger. The angle itself is a worn one--a criminal trying for one last big haul so that he can sail off into the sunset with the woman he loves. But in the hands of director David Mamet--he also wrote the screenplay--the ingredients seem as fresh as if the idea had never been thought of before.
Mamet writes crisp, believable dialogue, and with this cast of pros everything works. One gets caught up in the convolutions, and no matter what, Hackman's presence makes you root for his character against whatever betrayal he encounters. He's a thief, but what the hell, you want him to succeed. Jay, who also is known as an expert on con games and on occasion does a one-man theater show, is particularly enjoyable here as one of the criminal associates. To be sure, the film has its violence, but Mamet makes it entertaining.
Although filmed in the Montreal area, the story is set in and around New York, Boston and parts of New England. Hackman plays Joe Moore, who is tough, resourceful and determined to call it quits and retire with his wife Fran (Pidgeon), his accomplice in crime. Joe has operated with a loyal crew, the foremost being Bobby Blane, played by the always impressive Delroy Lindo, and Don Pincus (Jay). Joe's plans to quit are thwarted by Bergman, a fence, menacingly played by Danny DeVito, whose nasty aide is portrayed by Sam Rockwell. Bergman forces Joe into one more big job.
What follows is a suspenseful yarn involving double-crossing, outsmarting, outmaneuvering and loyalties up for grabs, as well as violent showdowns. Mamet writes with icy humor and a film noir perspective, and his dialogue both gives the film momentum and sounds a ring of truth no matter how outrageous the situations. Hackman provides the most solid ground. He has a wonderful, weathered face and his expressions suggest the brains and wiles that he can summon whenever he's in a jam.
The beauty of this action story lies in how smartly the bits and pieces are joined and the steely but amusing performance by the masterly Hackman. Attractive Rebecca Pidgeon also makes herself a force who can either stick with her husband or betray him. If you like smart thrillers, "Heist" should give you pleasure. A Warner Bros. release.