Sam North reviews David Mamets' clever new twister.
two-time Academy Award winning actor GENE HACKMAN, DANNY DEVITO and DELROY
LINDO. Written and directed by Pulitzer Prize winner and Oscar nominee
DAVID MAMET, also starring SAM ROCKWELL, REBECCA PIDGEON and RICKY JAY.
plot is simple enough. An old actor is looking for a decent plot
to take him out on a high - only who can he trust? Who will protect
his reputation, will it work and will people come to watch. Well
the actor is Gene Hackman and this year (2001) he made three movies
back to back (and suffered health problems because of it) but he
need not have bothered. One of these films was enough, because with
THE HEIST and iwith him his late sixties, he has finally made the
Forget this week's release of Behind Enemy Lines which is the film
allegedly about Scott O'Grady shot down behind enemy lines in Bosnia.
In this Hackman plays Admiral Riegart, commanding an aircraft carrier
with his usual authority, but this is a movie directed by John Moore who
has only worked on MTV and it's all good patriotic stuff, but something
that will be quickly forgotten - even if successful at the box office.
Never mind the tonnage of other tosh that Gene Hackman has made over the
years. By his own admission, he never knows which will be a success and
which won't, but time after time, he always remains incredibly watchable.
He has however made a few gems and given polished performances in thrillers
and comedies that means his reputation and name will resonate down the
years and means something to a DVD audience.
Hackman made a difference to Bonnie and Clyde, starred in the little seen
Zandy's Bride, created the perfect Lex Luther in Superman, gave brilliant
performances in The Conversation and The French Connection, was suitably
right for the gripping Crimson Tide and was perfect in comedy for Get
Shorty. There are hundreds of others, but you always remember his performances,
that lived in face, that tight little smile and his supreme sense of confidence.
So he got really lucky teaming up with David Mamet who has given him a
shot at the perfect starring role at the end of a long career. Of course
Hackman won't stop, he will probably die on the job, I should think but
he won't get another smart role like this.
The Heist isn't
a blockbuster, though it opened to good business in the USA in November
but it damn well gives value for money and that's pretty rare in movies
Of course the actual
plot is, you've guessed it, an old thief and boat builder, Joe (Hackman)
has to do one last job before he retires with his young and pretty co-thief
wife, seductively played by Rebecca Pidgeon. This is a great cast, well
knitted together put up against a ruthless 'fence' played by Danny DeVito.
(Coincidentally co-stars in Get Shorty) Delroy Lindo as Joe's partner
and foil is excellent and playes with cool detatchment throughout.
No need to go into
the story, or explain anything. You will go to see it and the less you
know going in the better. There may well be a couple of robberies and
lots of planning and arrangements, but this film is much more about
personalities, plot twists and double twists. Who is doing what to whom
and you can see everyone had a cool time trying to make it all pay off.
Great dialogue, some puzzling, possibly inventive colloquial thief patter
and lot's of sexual tension. It's all there. You watch as advantage
swing towards one, then towards another, back and forth throughout the
(At times it had shades of the Sting about it and that is no bad thing)
Like David Mamet's wonderful and funny last movie State and Main,
you watch it for the lines and the comebacks and aren't disappointed.
DeVIto is the same over the top acting, but somehow quite right for
this role. Hackman is wary, but never weary, professional and convincing.
The Heist is about
a big gold robbery at a small Boston airport, but mostly it is about
trust and age. Is Joe's wife still trustworthy or has she changed sides,
who can you believe. Who is going to end up with the gold and who is
going to end up dead. When will the shooting start?
The Heist is a film that consistently surprises. It's a great movie
and if Gene Hackman is looking for a swansong, this is it. Savor the
© Sam North
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