Heist stars Jeffrey Dean Morgan (Supernatural, Watchmen, numerous others) as Vaughn, a man whose daughter needs surgery for a chance at a longer life; a chance she will lose if her father doesn’t come up with $300,000 within a few days. Vaughn works at a casino and, after a failed attempt to simply borrow the money from Pope (the casino owner played by the always chipper Robert De Niro; do I need to site his highlights?), decides to join in a robbery that a coworker (Dave Bautista; Guardians of the Galaxy, WWE fighter) has planned. When things (apparently) go badly during the robbery, they hijack a bus and try to flee the country with the police and casino owner’s thug(s) hot on their trail.
I liked the movie and found it mildly entertaining despite several flaws. For starters, Heist isn’t going to win points for originality or creativity. It is basically a generic heist/getaway movie mixed with the movie Speed (except the bus can and does stop occasionally). The plot probably could have used some honing to make it more impactful; it is a fast-paced thriller that occasionally feels like it skipped over a chance to really delve into the plot. A few characters just fade out of the movie at times and certain spots where the filmmakers try to build suspense are in vain because any audience member will know nothing is going to come of it, like the scene on the bridge when the cops have a chance to take out Vaughn roughly halfway through the movie, (spoiler) you know that isn’t going to happen.
Another issue I had with the movie is one of the main reasons the robbers get as far as they do is because of coincidence and/or the ineptitude of others. For example, a make-or-break part of their heist plan is hoping the security code to the casino vault hasn’t been changed a full day after Vaughn is fired; and it works (maybe it’s just me, but if I owned a casino and just fired a distraught employee desperate for money with the code to a vault containing over 3 million dollars, I might make it a priority to change the code). In terms of coincidence, the plan for the heist already largely existing and being offered to Vaughn just as he needs money is a good example.
That being said, if you can overlook some plot and character deficiencies, Heist is an overall fun movie with a respectable cast that also includes Mark-Paul Gosselaar (Saved by the Bell, Franklin and Bash) as a cop, Morris Chestnut (Nurse Jackie, Rosewood) as Pope’s right hand man, and Kate Bosworth (Superman Returns) in the kind of blink-and-you-miss-it role of Pope’s daughter. The acting didn’t feel too over-the-top, even from De Niro who has some nice insightful scenes including one about how we are all on a “path to obsolescence”.
Again, I enjoyed the movie and will probably recommend it to friends and family who enjoy a nearly-mindless thrill ride. I even fell for two of their “watching the wrong hand” twists- in addition to being a card dealer, Vaughn is an amateur magician who attempts to clue us in right from the beginning that the “magic” is happening in the hand you aren’t looking at. I won’t spoil what these twist are, but, to be honest, my response to these twists wasn’t “OMG, I can’t believe that just happened”, it was more “Oh, ok, they went with that twist”; meaning they were nice, interesting, but not unprecedented; just like the movie itself.