David Mamet has a fascination with trust. Many of his scripts weave threads of deception around each other until we start believing that nobody whatsoever in this world can be trusted - or at least in his movies. Heist is similar territory, amongst a group of high-end thieves. Our principals this time around are Gene Hackman, Delroy Lindo, Sam Rockwell, Danny DeVito, and Mamet regulars Rebecca Pigeon and Ricky Jay.
Mamet actually gets a little playful with us early on, venturing briefly into Tarantino-esque dialog. Other pieces of the film may even resemble Tarantino's films in style, but the heart of Heist is all Mamet and his flair for character and dialog.
Heist is well executed for what it is. We get a thrill of seeing complex and well-laid out plans being executed, various unexpected contingencies dealt with, and people jockeying with each other for advantage. What's missing is an emotional heart to the story.
We center principly on Gene Hackman's character, a man who would seem to prefer sailing to risking his own life much more after a long and healthy career. Like 'Sexy Beast' and other such movies, he gets lured into doing a job he isn't that thrilled about, but which, of course, is sure to be ludicrously profitable. By the end, we have been taken through enough twists to drive a pretzel nuts.
While Hackman's portrayal is excellent, we cannot connect with his actions very closely through much of the film. Mamet has a tendency to distance us from his characters anyway. In this case, we have enough space to question how much we care about Hackman, much less most of the rest of the cast.
Heist is an above average crime caper, strong in dialog, and uncharacteristically weak in character for a Mamet film - but still mostly beyond the competition.
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