One staple of heist films is that, unlike in other genres, you often find yourself rooting for the villain. These movies are usually framed so that by the climax, you hold the conviction that the criminals deserve their multimillion dollar payout. Laws be damned!
This is partially a result of the setup of these movies, which often give viewers a glimpse into the mastermind behind the crime. You feel like a brilliant badass helping to orchestrate the plan of a lifetime. As viewers, we’re taken on a wild ride and we’re invested in seeing it through to the end. And there will certainly be bumps in the road. Things can get bloody, and you could end up risking it all for a nice payday.
All this makes heist movies more engaging than idealistic rom-coms or straight-up horror flicks. It’s like if YouTube hair tutorials actually included a reel of all the things that can, and do, go wrong.
Here are some of the most exciting heist movies you should check out, if you haven’t already.1 of 12
The Usual Suspects (1995)2 of 12
In a small police office, Roger "Verbal" Kint tells his interrogator the long-winded story of how his group's involvement with a mob boss named Keyser Soze led to a dramatic massacre. Verbal's story is told through flashbacks and narration; the longer it goes, the more convoluted it becomes. But when it comes to shifty conmen, how much can you really believe?
Nine Queens (2003)3 of 12
More entertaining than Ocean’s 11 and with more twists than The Usual Suspects, this Argentine crime drama is the kingpin of heist movies. At first, the conceit is deceptively simple. Two con men team up to sell fake stamps. But in Nine Queens, nothing is as it seems. Buckle in and enjoy the ride.
Blue Streak (1999)4 of 12
Not all heist movies are intense and serious. Martin Lawrence is a riot in this movie where he plays a jewelry thief who, upon his release from prison, returns the building where he'd hidden a diamond two years prior — when it was still a construction site. Much to his dismay, a police precinct has been built there, so he goes undercover as a cop to get back his loot.
Ocean’s Eleven5 of 12
The first of the Ocean’s
trilogy, Ocean’s Eleven
is one of the more popular heist flicks ever. It involves a pre-Amal George Clooney orchestrating a massive heist at three Las Vegas Casinos. In addition to the two sequels released in 2004 and 2007, an all-women version
starring the likes of Rihanna and Julia Roberts, plus a cameo from Kim Kardashian, is currently in production and will be released next year.
Set It Off (1996)6 of 12
Truth be told, Set It Off is more than just a heist film. It’s a critical commentary on how race, gender, and class intersected to create the circumstances of four Black women in Los Angeles. With Queen Latifah and Jada Pinkett leading the cast, the four chicks pull off a string of bank robberies in one of the greatest action-dramedies ever.
Bonnie & Clyde (1967)7 of 12
In addition to doubling as a tragic romance, this vintage flick is based on the true story of the infamous, eponymous couple that robbed about a dozen banks in during the Great Depression and killed some people in the process. It also provided the inspiration for Jay Z and Beyoncé’s 2012 “Bonnie & Clyde” collaboration.
Inside Man (2006)8 of 12
The thing that makes this heist movie so great is that it’s not actually about a theft, at least in the traditional sense. But the criminal plan is executed with amazing precision. As the movie progresses, both viewers and Denzel Washington, who plays the cop trying to figure this whole thing out, learn that the plan is bigger than anyone expected.
Now You See Me (2013)9 of 12
Is there really any better ruse to cover up your bank robbery than with magic? That’s the premise of this movie about four Vegas style magici— excuse me, illusionists who shower their guests with stolen money. The magic rose to new heights when
Harry Potter Daniel Radcliffe was hired for the sequel in 2016.
Dead Presidents (1995)10 of 12
In this Black cult classic, a group of Vietnam veterans, scorned by their country after a hellish tour of duty, go rogue. They plan to rob an armored car making a stop at the Bronx’s Federal Reserve Bank. Not everything goes as planned, though. But then again, does it ever?
Takers (2010)11 of 12
T.I., Paul Walker, and Idris Elba lead the star-studded cast of this run-of-the-mill heist movie. A group of criminals that you grow to love want a lot of money that’s inside of a moving truck. But most importantly: T.I., Paul Walker, and Idris Elba. Zoe Saldana plays a cute girlfriend, too.
Just because you're breaking the law doesn't mean that you have to be rude about it. Bruce Willis and Billy Bob Thornton broke the mold when they used non-violent, courteous tactics to rob a string of banks. They even fall in love with one of their hostages which makes things a little awkward.