Review by Steve Rhodes
3 stars out of 4
"What are we going to do?" Fran Moore (Rebecca Pidgeon) asks her husband, Joe
(Gene Hackman), the gang's mastermind. "That's what everybody wants to know,"
he replies. And that's what viewers will keep asking themselves in HEIST, a
smartly written crime caper filled with twists and double crosses from
writer/director David Mamet. The clever script has more than enough dead ends
and head fakes to keep you guessing.
With a wide variety of films to his credit, including STATE AND MAIN, THE
WINSLOW BOY and my favorite, HOUSE OF GAMES, David Mamet has a great track
record. In his impressive canon, the movie that HEIST will most remind you of
is THE SPANISH PRISONER. His signature style is the staccato dialog in which
short sentences are like bullets packed for maximum impact. How cool is Joe?
"He's so cool that when he goes to sleep, the sheep count him," Pinky (Ricky
Jay), one of Joe's men, remarks about him.
The plot has Joe and his team, which includes Pinky, Fran and Bobby (Delroy
Lindo), reluctantly taking on a hotheaded newbie, Jimmy Silk (Sam Rockwell,
GALAXY QUEST), because Jimmy's relative, Bergman (Danny DeVito), demands it.
Bergman is supplying the cash to finance Joe and Co.'s heists, and Bergman wants
a man on the inside of their operation after a previous job of Joe's goes
Joe's effectiveness comes from more than his coolness under pressure. His
brilliance is best shown in his meticulously planned backup schemes. He doesn't
just prepare Plans A, B and C. He apparently works his way through the entire
alphabet given how well he is able to react to unexpected circumstances.
And how cool is his wife? Fran, Joe claims, "could talk her way out of a
As the time runs out on the caper, it becomes a game in which whoever has the
gold last wins. The audience will win regardless, since they get to enjoy the
golden dialog. Joe, for example, doesn't like people pointing guns at him
unless they plan to shoot. Why? Because otherwise, "It's insincere."
HEIST runs 1:47. It is rated R for "language and some violence" and would be
acceptable for kids around 12 and up.
My son Jeffrey, age 12, gave the film ***. He liked it all, especially the
twists. His only complaint was that having so many backup plans seemed a little
Copyright © 2001 Steve Rhodes