Movie review of “Heist’: A better action potboiler than human drama, the film concerns a bungled casino theft. Robert De Niro stars. Rating: 2.5 stars out of 4.
“Heist,” engrossing yet underdeveloped, brings to mind a great line from Lawrence Kasdan’s wonderful 1985 Western, “Silverado.”
At one point, “Silverado’s” villain (played by Brian Dennehy) says of his diffident, former partner in crime (Kevin Kline): “[He] doesn’t seem to care about anything, except he does. You just can never tell what it’s going to be.”
Nearly everyone in “Heist,” the story of a bungled theft and its aftermath, unexpectedly and narrowly cares about something, despite otherwise being profoundly violent and desperately selfish.
Movie Review ★★½
‘Heist,’ with Robert De Niro, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Dave Bautista, Gina Carano, D.B. Sweeney, Kate Bosworth, Morris Chestnut. Directed by Scott Mann, from a screenplay by Stephen Cyrus Sepher and Max Adams. 90 minutes. Rated R for violence and language. Varsity.
Take Robert De Niro’s murderous, monstrous casino owner, “the Pope,” whose failure to reconcile with an estranged daughter becomes a crack in his armor. Or Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s Vaughan, who robs the Pope’s casino and commandeers a city bus at gunpoint, only to strain to keep his hostages alive. Or Vaughan’s merciless sidekick, Cox (“Spectre’s” Dave Bautista), whose soft spot is a childhood pal bleeding to death.
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On it goes. Even a sturdy cop (Gina Carano), hot on the heels of the thieves, bends her principles when she realizes there’s more to antihero Vaughan than meets the eye.
“Heist” presents a bifurcated view of people under stress, when the worst and best in anyone is likely to show. The result is an interesting tension within and between characters, but a lack of greater nuance in “Heist” renders everyone emotionally monochromatic.
There’s an emptiness in the film — exacerbated by an improbable twist at the end — but that doesn’t mean “Heist” is unwatchable. Director Scott Mann does a bang-up job of orchestrating suspense and mayhem in chase scenes involving the bus, police cars, SWAT vehicles and a helicopter. Several stunts can leave you bruised just watching them.
Caught between genre potboiler and would-be human drama, “Heist” doesn’t have a mark to hit. But it leaves some good impressions.