With all due respect to Avatar and Top Gun, heist films are why movie theaters exist. The Dolby surround sound, and forty-foot-wide theater screens are enough to convince the audience that they are rolling with the crew to rob the Brink's truck.
A select few heist movies have a particularly blood-circulating, eyelid-widening effect.
1. Heat (1995)
For many, Heat is the undisputed G.O.A.T. of heist movies. Gritty direction from Michael Mann, a cat-and-mouse dynamic between prime (or near-prime) De Niro and Pacino, and a solid story based in the underside of Los Angeles make Heat a movie you'll want to watch with a ski mask on.
2. The Town (2010)
Arguably the best heist movie of its era, The Town brings Ben Affleck back to his Boston roots. This time, though, Affleck is a bank robber rather than a successful actor.
Jeremy Renner's intimidating guest appearance lends the movie a unique sense of realism seldom seen in heist films. Additionally, the film makes excellent use of Boston's famously narrow streets and rich historical settings.
3. Hell or High Water (2016)
An elite heist movie isn't all flash bangs and gunshots. The best ones have compelling characters, razor-sharp dialogue, and equally formidable lawmen to match the robbers.
Hell or High Water has all of it. Additionally, the setting of a bleak Texan oil community renders this contemporary heist film refreshingly distinct compared to the overused bank-robber clichés. As frequently happens, Ben Foster takes the spotlight.
4. Inside Man (2006)
What were the odds that a Spike Lee-helmed bank heist movie starring Denzel Washington and Clive Owen would flop? About as likely as Casper the Ghost belly-flopping.
Although there was a risk of disappointment, given the high expectations surrounding “Inside Man,” this film managed to surpass even its highest expectations. Thankfully, “Inside Man” delivers a gripping heist story that concludes with an unforeseen twist.
5. The Thomas Crown Affair (1968)
While younger streamers typically avoid movies filmed before 1985, great cinema has no age. The Thomas Crown Affair stars Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway in a non-formulaic take on the heist genre. Remember, oldies can be goodies.
6. Dog Day Afternoon (1975)
Al Pacino and John Cazale (Fredo, you're killing me) star in this critically-beloved heist film based on a true story. The story of a man who robs a Brooklyn bank to fund his partner's s**change operation was fairly edgy in 1980. Younger viewers won't bat an eye at the story but will be engrossed by the movie's chaos.
7. Baby Driver (2017)
A heist movie that strives to be one of a kind, Baby Driver combines music, action, and good ole' stealing to great cinematic effect.
I'll warn you that the movie features two canceled (or at least partially canceled) stars, Kevin Spacey and Ansel Elgort. While I will not endorse either guy's character or decisions, Baby Driver is a must-see movie.
8. Den of Thieves (2018)
Den of Thieves is undoubtedly a movie that benefits from low expectations. When Gerard Butler stars in an action movie, most viewers expect little thought but lots of fun. Den of Thieves follows a similar formula. As usual with Gerard Butler-led action movies, the formula works.
9. The Sting (1973)
Let's get one more shout-out to the OG movie stars! First Ballot Hall of Fame Studs Robert Redford and Paul Newman star in The Sting, a far edgier film than its PG rating suggests. The film won 7 Oscars, including Best Picture, which tells you all you need to know.
10. Logan Lucky (2017)
There are a few directors where every movie is a must-see, and Steven Soderbergh is one of them. Though Logan Lucky is far from Soderbergh's greatest commercial or critical success, it is an unconventional heist movie with a strong cast. That's more than a few reasons to check out Logan Lucky if you haven't already.
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