The genius comes out of his cave, comes up with a brilliant and unique idea that will impress everyone (even himself), recruits a crack team of experts to carry it out, and then explains the whole thing to them and to us. We’re left wondering if they were successful in their attempt to loot the bank after a series of complications delay us from finding out.

Heist movies, which have their roots in cinema noir, have constantly been among the best in the business. It helped that they had a solid base from the start, as it gave the writers and filmmakers confidence to try new things and push the envelope, safe in the knowledge that the framework would back them no matter what. Yet, that is not the only thing taking place. It was easy for spectators to fall in love with the plotting rogues and handsome con artists who stole from the affluent in 1960s films like Basil Dearden’s The League of Gentlemen due to the campier, more whimsical sensibility of those films. At this point, the criminals were the ones with the upper hand; the victim and the law were the only things standing in their way of a good time.

This is because seeing a heist film might make you feel like you’re missing out on something you’ve always wanted, or at the very least it’s entertaining to pick apart the film in an effort to figure out where it went wrong and how you can avoid making the same mistakes.

Here’s a rundown of some heist movies that could tickle your fancy.

Baby Driver

A former getaway driver is pressured into helping safeguard his girlfriend, but the mission goes horribly wrong when he and his partner learn that the people selling them weapons are actually undercover cops. Edgar Wright (Spaced, Shaun of the Dead) returns with his latest opus, Baby Driver, a high-octane car chase with a terrific score to match all the squealing tires and slamming accelerators.

Ocean’s 11

While the sub-Dick Van Dyke cock-er-nee chomping of George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Julia Roberts, Lennox Lewis, and Don Cheadle scheme to loot not one, not two, but three Las Vegas casinos in one night using a Chinese acrobat as their weapon, they use the heavyweight title fight as a diversion. Not much can be said to what has already been written about the picture, except maybe that it was the catalyst for Brad Pitt’s second act, in which he became a traditional leading man in the mold of Robert Redford: laconic, wisecracking, and frequently shown with a burger in his hand. Building your gaming skills is essential if you want to be the next Danny Ocean. Check out to hone your blackjack and other casino skills.


Frank, portrayed by James Caan, is a jaded ex-con and jewel thief in Michael Mann’s first picture. Frank and his new fiancĂ©e Jessie would like to live a regular life, but he can’t give up his illegal business practices. Frank is ready to go because he is sick and tired of being abandoned by the people who should have been there for him. Unless the very last major conflict is won, of course. Thief is a great film to see if you enjoy heist flicks but prefer those that are more realistic. There is also great music in Tangerine Dream.

Quick Change

Grimm, played by Bill Murray, is a cynical criminal mastermind who, with the help of his sidekick and lover, pulls off a flawless robbery. It’s classy and clever, and it makes him a million dollars. The last thing to do is board a plane and leave New York behind for good. The problem, though, appears on the run. Despite the various obstacles they’ll face, like the lack of street signs, muggers, suspicious tenants, fires, cab drivers, and mobsters, the three burglars may be able to escape the city unscathed.

Logan Lucky

The’master of heist’ behind the Oceans movies, Steven Soderbergh, also helms this blackly comedic heist comedy. Two male protagonists resort to stealing to fund their escape from a tiny hamlet in the United States. Adam Driver and Channing Tatum star as brothers Logan who, caught up in a plot to plunder a North Carolina racing circuit, must elude the FBI while trying to pull off the heist. Since Knives Out, this is the first film in which Daniel Craig has shown his humorous abilities.

Layer Cake

A throwback to the golden age of cinema, Matthew Vaughn’s portrayal of the seedy underbelly of England is credited with landing Daniel Craig the role of 007. Sienna Miller’s dance in one of the greatest nightclub moments in film history is unforgettable, and Daniel Craig gives an outstanding performance as a heroin dealer who wants out but is left with two challenging missions from his enraged employer.

Inside Man

Although Spike Lee’s current run of excellent films has been a joy to see, it’s regrettable that Inside Man was his final significant box office hit. The robbery is planned in advance and is complicated, involving fake decorators, a hostage-switch system, and recordings of the late Albanian dictator Enver Hoxha. The question of “how” will be replaced by “why” when Denzel Washington and Chiwetel Ejiofor approach Clive Owen’s criminal boss. Nobody shoots New York with the same verve and wit as Lee, so it should come as no surprise that this is a fantastic, intellectual blockbuster of a thriller.


Drive became a genre classic and a worldwide success thanks in large part to the charm of lead actor Ryan Gosling and the film’s memorable music. Carey Mulligan portrays the criminal’s wife, while Ryan Gosling plays the getaway driver/stuntman who falls for her. As a result, he has second thoughts about staying in the criminal underworld. There is some really graphic violence, particularly in an almost unwatchable elevator sequence, but the film’s softer moments are just as compelling.


Marvel’s entry into genre films may be traced back to the transition from Phase Two to Phase Three of the studio’s film production cycle. The espionage thriller genre was lauded by Robert Redford, who enjoyed Captain America: The Winter Soldier. That battle we had really was a slam dunk. Also, there was Ant-Man, whose enchanting and rapid kidnapping was accomplished by a band of villains. Edgar Wright’s proposed Ant-Man, which he was planning to direct and co-write, is one of the most interesting “what ifs” in modern film history. Paul Rudd and the gang’s dash into the quantum world is immensely charming, despite some lingering strange aspects from Wright and co-writer Joe Cornish.

Dog Day Afternoon

Al Pacino and his crew in Sidney Lumet’s flick come off as your typical no-holds-barred heist movie bad guys at first impression. Yet very immediately, problems arise that render their strategy useless. They aren’t a gang or anything. Misfits is the perfect word to describe them. Pacino’s Sonny swings from normal to psychotic in the span of 12 hours as he becomes an inadvertent counterculture folk hero while trying to raise money for his lover’s gender-affirming surgery.


Ronin is often overlooked in favor of Heat and Jackie Brown when talking about Robert de Niro’s incredible comeback in the mid-1990s. Ex-CIA man turned mercenary Sam organizes the search for a strange suitcase involving Jean Reno, Stellen Skarsgard, and Sean Bean. But Jonathan Pryce’s IRA agent character has other plans. Ronin is still great because of its realistic and gritty vehicle chases and because Bean is so good in the role of the helpless cog.


Steve McQueen’s complex thriller follows four widows who must come together to pay off their husbands’ debts after robbery attempts end in police deaths. To make up for the $2 million they stole from the mafia boss previously, they have a plan to grab $5 million from him before he dies. Widows is a bright, sophisticated, and urgent drama with four formidable women (Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriguez, Elizabeth Debicki, and Carrie Coon) who aren’t searching for laughs but are instead struggling to make ends meet.