Heist was directed by Scott Mann (Fall, Final Score), written by Stephen Cyrus Sepher (One More Round, Dead on Arrival) and Max Adams (Precious Cargo, The Expendables 4) and stars Jeffrey Dean Morgan (Texas Killing Fields, The Unholy) Dave Bautista (Army of the Dead, Marauders), Gina Carano(Terror on the Prairie, Scorched Earth), Mark-Paul Gosselaar (The Passage, NYPD Blue), Morris Chestnut (Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid, Under Siege 2: Dark Territory), Robert De Niro (Taxi Driver, Raging Bull), and Kate Bosworth (The Immaculate Room, Superman Returns). It’s about a man who’s escaping a heist he pulled on his crooked casino-owner boss.
The Plot: Sepher and Adams play fast with Heist. Not fast enough to hide the clear lifting of elements from ‘Speed’ and a little ‘John Q’, but the energy the movie runs off of and the many twists are able to sufficiently distract and keep viewer interest. Silva, AKA “the Pope” (De Niro) is attempting to reconcile with his daughter Sydney (Bosworth) and week away from stepping down from his role as a casino owner and his employee Luke (Morgan) needs $300k for his daughter’s medical bill. Can’t have too much originality.
After being declined a loan from Pope, Luke joins in on a heist being pulled by fellow employee Jason (Bautista). It goes expectedly wrong and the men have to escape on a bus, which is now being pursued by Pope’s man Derrick (Chestnut) and cops Kris (Carano) and Marconi (Gosselaar). As Luke and Jason escape, things get complicated with shifting allegiances, destinations, and tempers.
The Characters: A large and regretful letdown is a lack of characterization. While Luke and Kris are likeable enough and the Pope is dislikeable enough, there isn’t much given to any of the other key players in the story. Luke is an ex-soldier now making do in life back home, working at the casino for “too long” to support his daughter’s needs. He’s clear-headed and clearly a kind soul who has reservations about further violence; deciding to work with Kris rather than fight her and the cops. Jason is merely a heavy, insisting on doing things the blunt way and dealing with who or whatever may come next.
He fights a lot with Luke and that’s really it for the second lead. Kris is the trusting officer, sure that there’s more to Luke than being a highjacker and is willing to disobey orders to see to a better end. The Pope is a decent antagonist who’s everything Luke isn’t: apathetic, violent, and greedy. He more or less just spouts orders and some solid lines to everyone around him. Performances are almost unanimously sound, with Carano the odd one out, showing little emotion in an otherwise good thriller/melodrama.
The Thrills: Thankfully, Heist mostly makes up for what it lacks in character with energetic scenes of confrontation and threats. It’s entirely absurd but the movie truly does not care, which helps it move along at a brisk pace. The titular event is well done in its execution which does a bit of time jumping and has some narration that actually adds personality to the proceedings and it has logic to boot.
Hostage survivability is never really called into question though, thanks to Luke’s good heart and multiple defusals of Jason which takes away a potential layer of stress but does help to reinforce his attributes. During the times that Heist lurches into action mode, it achieves moderate success, more than when it’s focused on Luke versus the cops (kinda) versus Jason (kinda). The higher speed chases, a mid-transit medical problem, and the finale are all thoroughly engaging but a little too low in quantity to give the movie more impact.
The Technics: For a movie that is all about going (moderately) quick, the camera does a generally good job at capturing the spectacle on hand; the cinematography is nice to look at even when the thrills are reduced to deal with character drama and despite some shaky-cam, Heist is a pleasure to view. Pacing is a coin toss due to the aforementioned reductions in assaults, chases, and tense situations. During said slow periods Heist isn’t boring by any means, but a few of the more dramatic moments are things that haven’t been done better before. Music can be a bit overbearing too but the score is pretty good so it isn’t too much of a bother.
There’s enjoyment to be had with Heist thanks to some genuinely white-knuckled moments and good performances from Morgan, Bautista, Gosselaar, and De Niro but struggles to maintain its pacing which lets the derivativeness show. Still, Heist took my time and I’m in no hurry to steal it back.
Heist is available on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital from Lionsgate. Cinematic archeologists might want to check out the film’s long-abandoned Facebook page. If you’re in the mood for more films like it, FilmTagger has a few suggestions.