There are few cinematic pleasures as pure as watching a complex plan, full of moving parts and different people with different skillsets, come off without a hitch. That is why the caper film (aka the heist film) is such a durable genre, as we saw last spring with the surprise success of the magician’s caper film Now You See Me, new this week on Blockbuster On Demand!
Now You See Me
Woody Harrelson and Jesse Eisenberg head a stacked cast in Louis Leterrier’s light, witty adventure about magicians joining forces to rob millionaires around the world as part of their theater shows, and giving the money to their audiences. Mark Ruffalo, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Isla Fisher, and Melanie Laurent (Inglourious Basterds) costar.
George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Julia Roberts, and Matt Damon lead one of the all-time great ensemble casts through three movies’ worth of elaborate schemes to rob casinos, directed with great panache by Steven Soderbergh.
The Thomas Crown Affair
A bored millionaire (Pierce Brosnan) breaks up the crushing ennui of having everything he ever wanted by scheming to steal a $100 million Monet. Directed by John McTiernan, who made a little movie you may have heard of called Die Hard.
One of the great sleeper cult hits ever concerns a group of computer hackers (including Sidney Poitier, Ben Kingsley, Dan Aykroyd, and River Phoenix) that tests security systems by trying to break into them. They’re soon put to work by the NSA (timely!) and that’s when the fun starts.
Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels
Director Guy Ritchie established himself as the best of the legion of Tarantino imitators– and gave Jason Statham his start– with the story of some small-timers who decide to pay off a gambling debt by robbing the gang next door.
Not to be confused with the more recent Coen Brothers remake with Tom Hanks, this is the classic 1955 British comedy starring Alec Guinness — yes, that Alec Guinness — as the mastermind of a plot ensconce a gang of lowlifes (including a young Peter Sellers) in an old widow’s basement to tunnel into King’s Cross Station and rob it.
Paul Newman and Robert Redford followed up the monster success of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid with a Depression-era revenge plot against crime boss Robert Shaw (aka Quint from Jaws).
If you don’t want to watch a movie called “Heist” written and directed by David Mamet and starring Gene Hackman, Danny DeVito, and Delroy Lindo, well, I don’t know what to tell you. I just don’t know.
Robert De Niro teams up with Marlon Brando (in his final role) and Edward Norton for (say it with me) One Last Score: a $4 million heist to steal a scepter from the maximum-security basement of the Montreal Customs House. Frank Oz directs a twisty story of double-crosses and shifting alliances, also starring Angela Bassett.