In the heyday of Hollywood, many movies were adaptations of books and pulp novels. The Asphalt Jungle was one of these and is largely credited with being the first major cinematic heist movie. It had all the elements we know today, including the meticulous planning of a high-stakes robbery and its execution.
Since then, there have been some excellent additions and variations on the theme. From traditional smash and grabs to cerebral sci-fi, we give you our three of the best.
Ocean’s Eleven has had two major outings to date. The first in 1960 featured the famous Rat Pack, including Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis JR. It did not fare well at the box office, but a 2001 remake was an instant hit. Featuring great acting talents such as George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Don Cheadle it became a classic heist movie.
The story centres on Danny Ocean, who travels to Las Vegas to meet his old partner. While there, he proposes a plan to rob all the major casinos at the same time, including the Bellagio, Mirage and MGM Grand. Together, they begin to plan a heist that will occur on the night of a major boxing event. A roaring success, the movie got two follow-ups. Ocean’s Twelve takes place in Europe, with most of the original cast intact. The final movie, Ocean’s Thirteen, took a different spin by having the team try to bankrupt a casino.
Rumours abound that a sequel to the trilogy is now in the works featuring Margot Robbie. With the popularity of iGaming, it would be interesting to see the movie updated to include aspects of modern live dealer casinos. Some of the top casinos featured in the movie, such as the MGM grand, are now on the list of best in the US. Just like the Bond franchise has been updated to include cyber warfare, it would be interesting to see this aspect added.
The Italian Job
The Italian Job has to be on a list of Hollywood’s greatest heist movies, mainly because it has so many elements that have cemented themselves in popular culture. Starring Michael Caine as London criminal Charlie Croker, it has a varied cast featuring people as diverse as Benny Hill and Noel Coward. The soundtrack was also created by super-producer Quincy Jones.
After leaving prison, Croker gets involved in the execution of a heist in Turin, Italy, to steal $4 million in gold bullion. This takes him on a long robbery dodging the Italian Authorities, and the mafia, all conducted in Mini-cars. The result would be the most iconic chase in cinema history. Despite being a box office smash and getting critical acclaim, The Italian Job left viewers in suspense at the end, in what can only be defined as ‘a cliffhanger ending.’ Movies rarely come more influential than this.
A unique spin on both the heist and sci-fi genres, Inception was a visual spectacle of what could be achieved when great storytelling and CGI worked in harmony. Leonardo DiCaprio stars as Dom Cobb, a corporate thief who specialises in entering the minds of targets and extracting information. An offer arrives for him to plant an idea into the mind of someone else, instead of taking one. However, Cobb has a past of his own that he must wrestle with that threatens to derail the whole endeavour.
Inception needs watching carefully, as its cerebral twists and turns lead you on a journey that is not always easy to follow. However, its excellent narrative won four Oscars and over 220 award nominations. Arguably one of the greatest pieces of modern cinema.