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IN SHORT: Best of the Year #3. [Rated R for language and some violence. 105 minutes]
Tell us if you've heard this one before: heavy duty A-name thief gets wants to retire but is pushed by his partner or fence (etc.) into doing "one last job" whether he likes it or not. Of course you have. Now add two words to that generic formula:
David Mamet, the Writer and Director calls in regular troops Rebecca Pidgeon, and Ricky Jay, Danny Devito plus Gene Hackman and lets them loose in a story of thieves that layers double cross upon double cross and gives these shady characters all the shades of gray that any actor would hope to play. Simply, Mamet got a big budget and let loose on the world. Which he does so well you won't have time to sit back and try to figure out the mechanism by which all the heists you see on screen (there are more than one) take place.
It's obvious to the eye that the odd man out, age-wise, in the robbery team led by Joe Moore (Gene Hackman) is his wife Fran (Rebecca Pidgeon). Joe and partners, Bobby Blane (Delroy Lindo) and utility/lookout man, Don Pincus (Ricky Jay) are all fiftysomething. The lovely Fran is a good twenty plus years younger than her lucky hubby. Don't let the age fool you, Fran is as cold-hearted as they come, and provides more than her share of service to the team.
None of which means diddle to the also fifty-something fence named Bergman (Danny DeVito), who fronts the cash necessary to make the high tech jewelry heists, like the one we see as Heist begins, possible. Joe's problem is that, in that aforementioned burglary, his face got captured by a video surveillance camera. It's time to take profits and sail his handcrafted boat, wife at is side, down Argentina way.
The only hiccup in that grand plan is that Bergman has already designed and fronted the money for another grand theft. Objective: a very large shipment of gold to Switzerland. Incentive: Bergman wont pay out for the last job until the quartet commits to do the new job and add his nephew Jimmy Silk (Sam Rockwell) to the crew, to guarantee the mission. Problem: Jimmy Silk thinks he's a big time crook, though he has small time talents. Joe tells his wife to keep Jimmy "occupied" and he sets out to rewrite the plan to benefit his gang sans Bergman and Silk, all the while telling them that they're "in".
Ah, the best laid plans of mice and men...
Bergman doesn't trust Joe. Fran's got herself a young stud, even if he is an ass. The rest of the team has been screwed out of their shares and even though they get paid, everyone is doing something they don't want to do and no one really trusts each other. Accept the notion that DeVito's character is powerful and rich enough to set up all the gimmicks needed for the job and Mamet has delivered a great ride.
On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Nine Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Heist, he would have paid . . .
We've been sitting through hideous, intolerable, interminable Oscar wannabe movies all week. Heist is like a breath of fresh air.
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