No words can save this Hiest

The overall effect of writer/director David Mamet’s latest project, Heist, can be described in one word: “eh.”

It’s hard not to feel eh-ish after watching a fine group of actors flail around in a movie where not much is fresh, even with all the Mametian one-liners in the mix.

On one hand, you want to say it’s a good film, as Gene Hackman and Delroy Lindo play a pair of unwavering crook buddies, with Danny Devito doing what he does best – waving his arms around and looking severely pissed off all the time. On the other hand, you have to admit that the setup is pretty tired.

Gene Hackman plays Joe Moore, the seasoned thief who has to call it quits following a jewelry store mix-up at the beginning of the film. After sedating most of the jewelry store staff, Joe balks at shooting the one conscious person in the store and opts instead to approach her without his mask on in order to keep her calm before he bonks her on the head. But now Joe’s face is on the security cameras, and he’s a marked man. So it happens that he decides to cash out and sail off to the Caribbean to retire in style. Oh, if it were only that simple, folks.

In steps the crotchety Bergman (Danny Devito), the financier of all the crew’s operations. Bergman has already invested in the crew’s next job, “the Swiss thing,” and refuses to pay out on the jewelry store job until Joe and his crew do this (surprise, surprise) one last job.

From here on out, nothing goes as planned, which comes to be expected in this all-too-typical flick.

Once the setup is in place, the rest of the movie is pretty much a series of “I should’ve seen that one coming” scenarios, all leading up to a convoluted, though satisfying, finale.

Where Heist fails is in its rampant use of the plot twist. Just when it seems that there can’t be any more surprises, a dozen others pop up just to keep the audience on their toes. The problem is that after the first few, it just seems excessive. There’s hardly any breathing space between so-called pivotal scenes in which everything gets flipped around for no apparent reason. This all comes to inspire a great sigh of relief when the movie finally does finish up.

All in all, Heist comes off as simply a venture in this genre of film for the widely-respected and highly versatile Mamet. One can almost hear him boasting, “Look what else I can do,” as he plays with a plot that’s as old as crime itself, while showcasing his well-established flair for crisp dialogue and hard-nosed characters.

In this aspect, the film is clearly a success, dishing out sharper cut-downs than a Donald Rumsfield press briefing and staying true to the formula of a classic, well, “heist” film. But is it a good movie overall? Eh.

  • Heist is Rated R

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