Who doesn’t love a great heist film! Some of the greatest action and drama movies of all time have been about heists, and though they vary so much in their plot, timber, characterization and execution, they share some common elements which make them so compelling and endearing:
A Great Setting Up Phase:
A great heist movie takes us through the excitement of the plans, the back-up plans, the plan Bs, and the intricacies of all the risks and solutions envisaged by the core group setting out for the heist. The more challenging the better, the more unique the settling the greater the chance we will lap it all up. And of course, the entire set up doesn’t really have the audience set up as well; there’s always this next ingredient…
Derailment, Unforeseen Outcomes, and Panic:
Heists are no fun if they go exactly as planned, so there are those complications, fails, change of plans, risks from within (betrayals), risks from outside (security systems getting the better of them, or simply being caught)! Very often a good heist film sets up one or two initial smaller heist which don’t go too well but prepare the way for the grand finale!
An Incredible Team:
Whether it’s breaking into a bank or museum, one of the fundamental elements in such films is the composition of the team; how people of different backgrounds and skills come together to perform this one perfect job. Very often they don’t really seem to fit together until they pull off that incredible job; the complex interaction of the characters in a usually tense build up is often even more interesting than the heists themselves.
It’s often about more than just money:
In many great heist films, the goal is not so much the money as something bigger, deeper, more intimate to their fundamental motivations. Even when it is about a really large haul, the driving force is usually greater than the urge to earn bags of cash!
A reason to support them:
Great heists movies make us support the crooks to the point we don’t even feel like they’re doing something wrong. Whether it’s because the characters are deep, have good intentions, or simply because they’re likable, the point is we have a reason to root for them.
Oh, and sometimes it’s just the sheer adrenalin rush, the tension, the near misses and the eventual success of the grand heist that makes these movies such a great experience for viewers. What other elements do you think make for a great heist film?