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Joe Moore (Gene Hackman)
Bobby Blane (Delroy Lindo)
Mickey Bergman (Danny DeVito)
Jimmy Silk (Sam Rockwell)
Fran (Rebecca Pidgeon)
Pinky Pincus (Ricky Jay)
Written and Directed by David Mamet

Running Time: 113 minutes
Distributed by Warner Bros.

Heist is a crime caper film that relies more on character relationships along with driven dialogue than violence and special effects. Being the third crime-heist film to come out last year (the other two being The Score and Oceans 11); Heist is different in its own way through writer/director David Mamet’s style. This film could have easily been just another mild, same old story crime flick.

The story revolves around the aging thief Joe Moore (Hackman) and his accompanying crime crew. His right hand man is Bobby (Lindo), his organizer is Pinky (Jay), and his assertive lady as well as his young wife is Fran (Pidgeon). The film opens with the crew stealing some diamonds, but unfortunately Joe’s face is caught on the security tape. As he meets with his eccentric so-called crime boss, Mickey (DeVito), Joe is talked into taking one-more high profile score and then he will be able to retire. Mickey rightfully insists that the crew be accompanied by his temperamental nephew, Jimmy (Rockwell) for the job. As the crew plans for the big job, the elements of loyalty, trust, deceit, and many twists come into play as the characters attempt to get away paid and clean.

Overall, I liked Heist as a crime-twisted movie. It doesn’t have the coolness or flare of Soderbergh’s Oceans 11 or the hidden originality of The Score, but it is worth seeing. I believe all three crime-heist films of last year have some things in common, but they are all different in their own way.

The strength of the film is by far the characterization and dialogue of David Mamet’s writing. Though there is some violence towards the end of the film, for the most part the story is driven by words, not killings or bullets. Mamet always has a cynical and witty style with dialogue in his films. The lines are at times so dry, but they are really saying more than one thing about the current situation, relationship, character, etc. There are some very classy lines in the film as well. One example is when Pinky is describing to Jimmy of how cool Joe is under pressure, he states, “(Joe) is so cool, that when he goes to sleep, sheep count him.” The plot points and acts of the scripts are set up nicely and pane out a pattern for all the twists in the last half hour of the film. Thought there are some loopholes and some of twists seemed to jump back and forth. Mamet sticks with his characters and relationships above the flaws.

His direction contributes his writing, like always. The references earlier to the depth and different dialogue that Mamet chooses, leads me to believe that Mamet should be directing most of the scripts that he writes. My reasoning is because one might take his lines a different way and turn the story into a disaster. Though I have in the past questioned some aspects of Mamet’s writing and directing, I have like most of his work from the stage (wrote the Pulitzer Prize winning play Glengarry Glen Ross) and in film (Oscar nominated writer of Wag the Dog). With Heist, Mamet takes on the crime genre and vamps it from an everyday heist film into a clever character driven film where the characters are more significant than what they are stealing.

Gene Hackman is a strong force, as always, in the role of the veteran thief Joe Moore. Hackman, who was busy last year, appearing in Heartbreakers, Behind Enemy Lines, The Mexican and The Royal Tenenbaums, is the central force of the good cast in Heist. Danny Devito is humorously dark as the greedy man that sets up Joe’s hard tasked jobs. Devito himself steals some of the best scenes in the film. Delroy Lindo, Sam Rockwell, and Ricky Jay are also well-cast in the parts of Joe’s crew. Then there is Rebecca Pidgeon, who plays Joe’s younger wife, Fran. I have always knocked on Pidgeon’s acting, because I could never find her believable. However, she does okay with her role in Heist. Pidgeon is Mamet’s real-life wife and appears in all of his films. The acting ensemble is crucial in pulling off the twists of this film with their natural deliveries.

Heist does have a few loopholes, overdundance, and mildness in it. However, for the most part it is entertaining and I believe most audiences will like it. It has the typical same old story everyone has seen before, but Mamet’s use of the power of words over action is what I enjoyed most about the film.

Report Card Grade: B-

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