A good heist movie needs several key components. It needs to have something to steal, whether it be money, power, or something that’ll help with getting those two. It also needs to be fast-paced and logical, and it needs to be smarter than the audience watching it. Without these three key components, you’ll be sitting there knowing what’s going to happen. With that said, let’s delve into some of the best heist movies the 21st century has to offer.
Right at the start of the MCU trying to diversify their movies, make them less cookie cutter, and generally extend to being more than a superhero movie; Ant-Man delivers on both the heist front and the good-guys-against-the-bad-guys-front. It also features for the first time (to my mind) a criminal returning the very thing they stole, which is different.
Baby Driver (2017)
Movies and music have gone hand-in-hand since they first figured out how to put sound on silent movies some one hundred years ago. Few films have managed to make the two seamlessly connect like Edgar Wright’s Baby Driver did. Featuring shoot-outs, a lot of impressive and fast driving, and a surprisingly moving connection between the protagonist and his foster father, you won’t go wrong watching this.
Most heist movies spend their time explaining what bank, corporation, or house they’ll be breaking into, and what they’re trying to steal from their mark. Inception spends its first half explaining the plan to break into their mark’s mind, and then instead of stealing, they’re giving/planting an idea in his head for their own benefit. This barely scratches the surface of what is truly one of Nolan’s best.
Inside Man (2006)
Starring Denzel Washington and at the time, an incredibly popular Clive Owen, Inside Man will have you guessing from the get-go. Which is a heist movie that is equal parts simple and complicated. Showing that the bad guys aren’t necessarily evil, even if they do bad things, Inside Man is a heist movie that seems by the numbers at first, then quickly become so much more.
Ocean’s Eleven (2001)
A remake of the famous ‘Rat Pack’ starring film of the same name from the 60s, Ocean’s Eleven spends its considerable run time explaining the entire heist, from start to finish, and yet still gives us more than a few surprises when it eventually happens. Other than an incredibly suspect English accent from Don Cheadle, it’s a solid and fun entry in the heist movie genre.
The Town (2010)
Directing and acting in the same film must be no small feat, but as shown multiple times over his career, when Ben Affleck really believes in a project, he can smash it out of the park. With a host of familiar and capable faces starring alongside Affleck, the film will quickly immerse you in the story, and before you know it you’ll be watching the credits.
A truly succinct name, Widows is the story of a group of women who come together, having lost their respective partners in a shoot-out to the police. Deciding to carry out the heist their partners were planning, albeit some coerced into it, they work their way through getting a considerable amount of money from a local politician, with the aim of paying off a local gangster their partners owed.
Hopefully, we continue to get some truly fantastic heist movies that come out in the next few years, but for now, we’re not struggling with what we’ve got.