Heist films are an art unto themselves. They often overlap other genres – crime, thriller, film noir, romantic comedy – but the central element is, must, and will always be the perfect heist. The planning and the execution must be perfect, the criminals charming (most of the time), the take lucrative, the baddies so very bad, the mark someone or something we love to hate. A well-planned heist is cinematic poetry – it has tension and cleverness and at its best keeps the audience guessing right up until the end.
It is far too easy to go wrong in a heist movie – over-complication can be as bad as oversimplification, and tricking your audience at the last minute happens too often in the lesser films of the genre. But when a heist film works, when all the elements come together, what fun it can be!
To celebrate the release of Danny Boyle’s Trance, here are nine movies that celebrate the Art of the Heist, in its many forms.
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