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Was HEIST any good? (Gene Hackman)

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Was HEIST any good? (Gene Hackman)

Old 01-07-02, 03:57 PM
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Was HEIST any good? (Gene Hackman)

I was wondering if HEIST with Gene Hackman was any good?
How does it compare to THE SCORE?
Old 01-07-02, 07:05 PM
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(by the way, this may belong in the movie forum since the DVD isn't out yet)
I really liked it, and the DVD, which includes a David Mamet commentary, is definitely on my buy list. Though I liked The Score, I don't think I would want to see it again. Well done, I loved the actually robbery, but not much there to justify another viewing (at least for me). Heist on the other hand is an extremely fun movie that had wonderful dialogue in addition to entertaining heist scenes, thus making it more worthy of a second viewing. Anyway, below is my review of the film that I posted when Heist was 1st released.

We have all come to expect quite a lot from David Mamet and (in my opinion) he has yet to disappoint. As a result, every time I sit down to watch a new Mamet film I am very excited in addition to being a little worried that this will be his first bad film, I mean nobody can maintain a perfect record. Luckily, Mamet's record is still intact. Heist, coming towards the end of a long and disappointing summer at the movies, is everything you could want from a David Mamet film - namely more great dialogue, intricate set ups, and plot twists than you can shake a stick at.

With out getting into too many details, seeing the trailer for Heist for the first time had me worried, the film looked great, but it seemed to reveal so much about the film. Fortunately, I don't believe the trailer detracted from my enjoyment of the film in any way. However, upon reviewing the trailer I would suggest not watching it less than a couple of weeks before seeing the film as it does spoil some minor plot points and one very good gag.

Many points in this film reminded me of The Score, one of the few summer films I enjoyed. But, while The Score was a satisfying caper film, the word that always popped into my mind when thinking about it was competent. It knew what it wanted to do and did it fairly well. Heist on the other hand, more than being satisfying, is very, very enjoyable and when I think about it, it just seems very clever. Mamet packs so many great lines into this film (over and above what is in the trailer) and finds the cleverest ways to commit crimes that to be an observer was nothing less than pure joy. And the actual "heist" scenes are ingeniously set up and are very fun to watch. That having been said, Heist never really blows you away with a twist ending, not that I minded at all. I think that in the future many minor and major turns in the plot may be said to be overly obvious, but I believe that is because they weren't supposed to shock, rather just be logical extensions of the various characters and their relationships. If these twists were intended to surprise, they fail, ironically because they are the one thing audiences expect from a film in this genre. Consequently, as the audience is clued in to the mechanics of this genre, when the twists begin to arrive and continue to come on after another they are met not with surprise but recognition. In otherwords the unpredictability factor in itself is predictable.

The acting, as you would expect is terrific. Gene Hackman plays his role very well and delivers Mamet's lines with precision. Ricky Jay, as usual, is wonderful. In fact, this may be my favorite performance of his because he has so many good lines and gets to be part of so many great bits. Delroy Lindo is also very good and has a deadpan quality that I really liked. After loving him in Get Shorty, Crooklyn, Clockers, and now this, I am convinced he is truly one of America's most underutilized actors (he is, luckily, also in the upcoming film The Last Castle with Robert Redford, Mark Ruffalo, and James Gandolfini). Rebecca Pidgeon plays Gene Hackman's ok, but she lacks the spark and smolder the character needs. I feel her performances in The Winslow Boy and State and Main are much superior to the one she gives here. Rounding out the cast are Danny Devito as the man who finds jobs for Hackman and his crew and Sam Rockwell as Devito's nephew. Devito does his usual good job with this over the top role and is quite good at putting a twist on the standard delivery of Mamet's dialogue. Rockwell is not bad, but for some reason I felt that he overacted too much. Quick side note, it was wonderful to see Hackman, Lindo, and Devito reunite. The magic they had in Get Shorty certainly carries over into Heist and the movie really crackles when they interact with one another. In fact, arguably my favorite scene in the film is one between the three of them in which Hackman delivers an excellent one liner perfectly (you'll know the scene when you see it).

Since this is easily Mamet's "biggest" film yet (largest budget, very famous stars) some worried he may have sold out and was just pandering to the masses. I can attest to the fact that this is not true. He makes the most out of his resources but never lowers himself to the standards of most other writers/directors. My hope is that this film will attract a very large audience, including some people who have never seen a Mamet film. Then, satisfied viewers will want to check out other Mamet films and perhaps Hollywood may learn that a clever film can do good business as well.

Finally, though most probably realize this, I'll point it out anyway. Unlike some other Mamet films (such as Homicide, one of his best), Heist does not really have anything deep to say about society. It is just pure entertainment. As such, Mamet delivers the goods as well as anybody in the business.

3.5 stars/4
B+/A-

Last edited by vasb; 01-07-02 at 07:08 PM.
Old 01-08-02, 09:09 AM
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Thanks. I will pick this DVD up.
Old 01-08-02, 10:23 PM
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Great film...well worth watching multiple times... great snappy dialogue... which the score didn't have...but The score had terrific Cinematography...and I think that's a great movie too....

MATT
Old 01-09-02, 08:05 AM
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I'd recommend it as a rental, not a purchase.
Old 01-09-02, 12:34 PM
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Originally posted by vasb
Since this is easily Mamet's "biggest" film yet (largest budget, very famous stars)
Not to sound nit-picky, but I think State and Main had a larger cast of name-actors. Probably a smaller budget, though.

I enjoyed Heist (Danny DeVito sounds like he was born to deliver Mamet dialogue), but the film is pretty much Mamet-lite.

As far as never making a bad film, a case could be made for Oleanna and most certainly We're No Angels (if we're couting writing-only projects).

Shouldn't this thread be in the Movie Talk forum?
Old 01-09-02, 01:14 PM
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Originally posted by Josh Z


Not to sound nit-picky, but I think State and Main had a larger cast of name-actors. Probably a smaller budget, though.

I enjoyed Heist (Danny DeVito sounds like he was born to deliver Mamet dialogue), but the film is pretty much Mamet-lite.

As far as never making a bad film, a case could be made for Oleanna and most certainly We're No Angels (if we're couting writing-only projects).

Shouldn't this thread be in the Movie Talk forum?
State and Main certainly had its share of big name actors, such as Alec Baldwin and Sarah Jessica Parker, I simply felt that Gene Hackman and Danny Devito were some of the most well known stars Mamet has ever worked with.

Also, though I can definitely see a how a case could be made against Oleanna, when I saw the film I had not seen the play, so I found some of the ideas put forth to be intriguing enough for me to enjoy the film (though it is certainly one of his weaker efforts). After seeing the play I preferred the theatrical version, it seemed to have more passion, but that did not change the fact that I had enjoyed the film when I first saw it.

I do agree with your comments regarding We're no Angels and if counting his writing only projects I would also label Hannibal and The Untouchables as screenplays that were disappointments.

Last edited by vasb; 01-09-02 at 01:16 PM.

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