Top 20 Heist Movies That Stole the Show

Top 20 Heist Movies That Stole the Show
Top 20 Heist Movies That Stole the Show

Crime movies are undoubtedly some of the most exhilarating movies in cinema. Whether it be a striking heist picture filled with action, or a taut drama that examines the inner workings of criminals, heist movies continue to thrive. In fact, some of the most critically acclaimed films of all time fall into the crime genre.

This list will take a deep dive into some of the most classic crime movies of all time. Furthermore, we will explore some hidden gems that slipped under the radar for various reasons. So, let’s unveil the top 20 heist movies that stole the show.

20. The Bank Job

Jason Statham in The Bank Job (2008)

The Bank Job is a tense and gripping heist movie starring Jason Statham as Terry Leather, a former petty criminal who is approached by an old flame to lead a team of thieves in a daring robbery of a London bank. What Terry and his crew don’t know is that the bank they are robbing is in fact a front for a corrupt government agency, with photographs and files of high-profile individuals that could topple the entire establishment in the wrong hands. As the stakes get higher and the conspiracy becomes clearer, Terry and his team must use all of their wits and skills to outsmart the authorities and make a clean getaway with the loot. Filled with dazzling action and suspense, The Bank Job is a thrilling ride from start to finish.

19. The Old Man & The Gun

Robert Redford in The Old Man & The Gun (2018)

The Old Man & The Gun is a 2018 crime drama directed by David Lowery. The film is based on the true story of Forrest Tucker, a career bank robber famous for escaping prison multiple times and continuing his criminal activities. The film depicts Tucker’s final heist, where he meets a charming woman named Jewel (Sissy Spacek), and tries to evade the authorities.

The Old Man & The Gun was a long-awaited return of Robert Redford, who portrays Tucker in this film and announced it as his final performance. Redford was perfect for the role as he excelled in portraying Tucker’s sly character, giving audiences a glimpse of the iconic actor’s brilliance even in his old age. The picture received positive reviews for its storytelling and superb performance by Redford. Furthemore, it boasted a strong supporting cast including Casey Affleck and Danny Glover.

18. Bandits

Bruce Willis, Billy Bob Thornton, Cate Blanchett, and Troy Garity in Bandits (2001)

Bandits is a crime comedy released in 2001 and directed by Barry Levinson. The plot revolves around two bank robbers, Joe and Terry (Bruce Willis and Billy Bob Thornton), who become notorious for their unique modus operandi of kidnapping bank managers the night before the robbery and forcing them to open the vault. Along the way, they also attract the attention of a bored housewife, Kate (Cate Blanchett), who becomes the love interest of both men. Bandits is an understated crime gem, not relying on flashy action sequences or unnecessary plot twists. Instead, it serves as a character study, focusing on the charming interactions between the lead characters.

17. Point Break

Keanu Reeves in Point Break (1991)

Point Break is a classic action film that tells the story of rookie FBI agent Johnny Utah, played by Keanu Reeves. The film follows Utah as he goes undercover to investigate a string of daring bank robberies believed to have been committed by a group of surfers. However, as he becomes more immersed in the surf culture, Utah begins to develop a bond with the leader of the gang, Bodhi (Patrick Swayze).

As Utah’s loyalty to the FBI and his own moral code become increasingly challenged, he must decide where his allegiances truly lie. Point Break‘s intense action sequences and memorable performances cemented its place as a beloved classic. Furthermore, the film’s success also launched Keanu Reeves’s career as an action superstar. He went on to star in iconic action films such as The Matrix, and John Wick, earning him a reputation as one of Hollywood’s most bankable action stars.

16. 30 Minutes or Less

Jesse Eisenberg, Rick Irwin, Sam Tedesco, Aziz Ansari, and Rebecca Cox in 30 Minutes or Less (2011)

30 Minutes or Less is a crime comedy that tells the story of two slacker friends who are forced to rob a bank by a demented criminal. The movie perfectly blends the slick crime genre with slapstick yet unique humour throughout the entirety of the film. Its clever combination of genres manages to keep the audience laughing while also engaging their suspenseful side. The characters in the movie are flawed yet relatable, making it easy for the audience to root for them even though they’re committing a crime.

15. Cherry

Tom Holland in Cherry (2021)

Cherry, starring Tom Holland, is a powerful film that tells the story of a young man who joins the army to escape the monotony of his life. After serving in Iraq, he returns home, struggling to adapt to civilian life and grappling with PTSD. As his mental health deteriorates, he embarks on a spree of bank robberies with his girlfriend to support his drug addiction. The film blends war drama with thrilling heist sequences, leaving viewers on the edge of their seats. Amidst this chaos, Tom Holland forefronts the movie with a nuanced performance of a man struggling with PTSD, continuing to make terrible decisions.

14. Victoria

Frederick Lau and Laia Costa in Victoria (2015)

Victoria is a German crime drama that follows the story of a young Spanish woman, named Victoria, who meets a group of young men in a Berlin nightclub. When one of the men asks Victoria to join them on a late night adventure, she agrees and quickly finds herself caught up in a dangerous heist. The film’s seemingly simple plot is brought to life through a standout trope – it was filmed in one continuous take. This unique technique gives the film a visceral and immersive feel, as if watching a live stage play on screen. This approach also allows the audience to experience the unraveling events in real-time, heightening the tension and urgency of the story.

13. Killing Zoe

Killing Zoe (1993) Screengrab

Killing Zoe is a critically acclaimed indie crime thriller that was written and directed by the famed Pulp Fiction screenwriter, Roger Avary. The movie follows a young American man named Zed (Eric Stoltz), who travels to Paris to meet up with an old friend, a notorious safe cracker, Eric. Together, Zed and Eric plan to rob a bank, but things take a dark and violent turn when they become involved with a prostitute named Zoe (Julie Delpy). As the heist spirals out of control and the trio become more entangled with one another, they begin to question whether any of them will make it out alive. Killing Zoe is a masterful display of Avary’s unique storytelling style and his talent for creating gripping, intense dialogue.

12. Public Enemies

Johnny Depp in Public Enemies

Public Enemies is a thrilling film directed by Michael Mann that explores the life of notorious bank robber, John Dillinger, during the Great Depression. Starring Johnny Depp as Dillinger, the film follows his criminal escapades as he eludes the FBI and becomes a folk hero to the American public. Leading the FBI’s pursuit of Dillinger is Melvin Purvis, played by Christian Bale, who is determined to capture the criminal mastermind and bring him to justice. The star-studded cast also includes Marion Cotillard, Stephen Graham and Billy Crudup. With gritty action sequences and strong performances, the film captures the tension and excitement of this infamous period in American history.

11. Out of Sight

George Clooney and Jennifer Lopez in Out of Sight (1998)

Out of Sight is a crime comedy film directed by Steven Soderbergh and released in 1998. The plot revolves around a bank robber named Jack Foley (George Clooney) who escapes from prison and meets up with a U.S. Marshal named Karen Sisco (Jennifer Lopez) with whom he shares a mutual attraction. The film is an adaptation of the acclaimed novel by Elmore Leonard and features an impressive cast including Ving Rhames, Albert Brooks, and Don Cheadle. Out of Sight fuses drama, comedy, and romance near-perfectly. Furthermore, the film has continued to grow in cult status since its release, due in part to its quirky characters and razor-sharp dialogue.

10. From Dusk Till Dawn

George Clooney, Aimee Graham, and John Hawkes in From Dusk Till Dawn (1996)

From Dusk Till Dawn is a film that defies categorization, starting out as a gripping crime thriller before seamlessly transitioning into a wacky horror movie. Written by Quentin Tarantino and directed by Robert Rodriguez, the film is a collaboration between two of the hottest filmmakers of the 90s. Tarantino also stars in the film, which follows two brothers, Seth and Richard Gecko (played by George Clooney and Tarantino), as they go on a crime spree throughout Texas and Mexico.

In an effort to escape the law, the two criminals kidnap a family and force them to drive across the border. However, they soon find themselves facing an entirely different kind of enemy. After making a pit stop at a strip club, they soon learn that it is populated by blood-thirsty vampires. With its unique combination of genres and Tarantino’s signature dialogue, From Dusk Till Dawn is a truly unique cinematic experience.

9. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

Paul Newman and Robert Redford in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid is a classic film released in 1969, directed by George Roy Hill. It tells the story of two notorious outlaws, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, portrayed by Hollywood legends Paul Newman and Robert Redford. The film follows the duo as they rob banks and trains while being chased by a relentless posse led by the overzealous lawman, Wyatt Earp. As their notoriety increases, they flee to Bolivia, where they continue their life of crime until their inevitable demise. The film’s success is a testament to the incredible chemistry between Newman and Redford and their natural portrayal of the lovable and charming outlaws.

8. Good Time

Robert Pattinson in Good Time (2017)

Good Time is a modern cinematic masterpiece from the Safdie Brothers. The unique film sees Robert Pattinson fully transforming himself into a bank robber named Connie who embarks on a twisted and thrilling odyssey through New York City to save his mentally challenged brother. When their heist goes horribly wrong, Connie must navigate the gritty underworld of New York to bail out his brother from jail.

With a raw and gritty style, Good Time explores the seedy underbelly of society and the lengths people will go to protect their loved ones. Pattinson delivers a career-defining performance that showcases the depth of his acting prowess. Furthermore, the Safdie Brothers’ direction creates an intense and visceral experience that leaves a long-lasting impression after the credits roll.

7. Bonnie and Clyde

Bonnie and Clyde (1967) Screengrab

Bonnie and Clyde is a classic crime film that tells the story of two young lovers who become infamous bank robbers and murderers during the Great Depression. The film follows the duo, portrayed by Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway, as they go on a spree across the central United States, leaving a trail of violence and destruction behind them. Despite their criminal activities, the audience is drawn to the charismatic and enigmatic Bonnie and Clyde, who are portrayed as rebels fighting against oppression and injustice.

6. Reservoir Dogs

Harvey Keitel and Tim Roth in Reservoir Dogs (1992)

Reservoir Dogs is widely considered to be one of the greatest films ever made. Quentin Tarantino‘s debut movie tells the story of a group of professional thieves who hide out in a warehouse when their job goes terribly wrong. When they soon realize that a police tip-off was ignited, the group of criminals must now work out who is the rat amongst them. Reservoir Dogs kickstarted the career of Tarantino, and inspired countless crime films thereafter. To that, it has become a true classic in the crime genre.

5. Thief

James Caan in Thief (1981)

The 1981 film, Thief, marked a defining moment in the Michael Mann’s career. This showcased him as a confident and stylish cinematic voice and would come to define his future work. The story follows Frank (James Caan), a skilled and ambitious safecracker. However, trouble arises when Frank becomes embroiled in a web of corruption and violence after agreeing to pull off a lucrative heist for a powerful crime boss.

Through Mann’s striking visual style and atmospheric soundtrack, we witness Frank’s determination as he navigates increasingly dangerous waters and confronts the consequences of his actions. With his compelling portrayal of a man caught between his criminal impulses and his longing for a normal life, Caan delivers a career-defining performance that draws us into the heart of the story and refuses to let go. Thief remains a revered classic of the American crime genre and a testament to the power of Michael Mann’s singular cinematic vision.

4. Inside Man

Kim Director and Clive Owen in Inside Man (2006)

Inside Man is a thrilling heist film directed by Spike Lee that follows a group of robbers as they undertake a bank heist in downtown Manhattan. The film stands out due to its twisting and turning plot that leaves viewers guessing until the very end. As the robbers begin to execute their plan, so too do the police who have been tipped off about the heist. But as the minutes tick by and the hostages inside the bank begin to reveal more about themselves, the plot thickens and what initially seems like a straightforward heist movie starts to reveal a deeper and more complex story.

3. The Town

Ben Affleck, Jeremy Renner, George Carroll, and Owen Burke in The Town (2010)

The Town served as Ben Affleck‘s second outing as a director. The plot follows Doug MacRay (Ben Affleck), a seasoned thief from Boston who leads a tight-knew crew of criminals. After kidnapping a bank manager during their latest heist, MacRay presses her afterwards to see what she knows. However, he soon begins to fall in love with her. With her having no idea who he is, their relationship blossoms and MacRay starts to yearn from a life away from crime. The Town stands tall and proud in the heist genre. It served as ample proof that Affleck had what it takes to handle big-budget movies with ease. In turn, this set him apart from other actors, solidifying him as as a solid filmmaker in Hollywood.

2. Dog Day Afternoon

Al Pacino, Carol Kane, Penelope Allen, Sully Boyar, and Marcia Jean Kurtz in Dog Day Afternoon (1975)

Dog Day Afternoon is a gripping crime drama directed by Sidney Lumet and starring Al Pacino in one of his most memorable performances. The plot revolves around a failed bank robbery orchestrated by Pacino’s character, Sonny Wortzik, and his accomplice, Sal Naturile. As law enforcement and a large crowd of onlookers gather outside the bank, Sonny’s motivation for the robbery becomes clear – he needs the money to help his partner’s sex reassignment surgery.

Though the robbery ultimately fails and ends in tragedy, the film’s nuanced portrayal of complex characters and themes of loyalty, desperation, and the American Dream have solidified its iconic status in cinema history. Dog Day Afternoon remains widely regarded as one of the greatest crime films ever made for its captivating performances, tight direction, and socially relevant subject matter.

1. Heat

Robert De Niro and Val Kilmer in Heat (1995)

Heat is one the most acclaimed movies of all time. However, it didn’t receive any major awards recognition upon release. This may be due to the fact that the film had a large focus on its action sequences. Historically, action movies don’t fair well at awards season. However, Heat is much more than an action film. Michael Mann‘s crime classic focuses on a high-end team of thieves who feel the pressure when a determined detective begins to close in on them.

The film marked a monumental moment in cinema history, serving as the first time Robert De Niro and Al Pacino had shared the screen together. The story of two men on opposite sides of the law served as a dramatic vehicle, allowing the audience to relate to both men despite their flaws. Heat also served as one of the most influential crime movies of all time, even inspiring the famous bank heist scene in Christopher Nolan‘s The Dark Knight. As of 2023, Heat sits comfortably at number 111 on IMDB’s top 250 rated movies of all time list.

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