My Top 10 Favorite Heist Films

[Post updated on April 12, 2023.]

This past weekend, my TiVo happened to pick up Die Hard. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen Die Hard, and I was quickly reminded of how much I enjoy the movie. As I was watching, I realized why: At its heart, its a heist movie. I love heist movies.

I think a big part of it is that I love to play board games, and a good heist movie is essentially a strategy game unveiled before you. You get to see the careful calculations, the asymmetric characters, and the impossible task. The goals and challenges are clear, but there are still some twists and turns along the way.

So today I’ve compiled my top 10 favorite heist movies of all time. Before I should begin, a major qualifier for all of these is that I remember what makes the heists so interesting. I found as I went through other list that I recall enjoying the movie overall, but I can’t remember specifics about the heist itself, which speaks to the importance of the heist portion of the movie (and about my memory). Other movies seem to be more car chase movies than they are heist movies in hindsight.

Honorable mentions: The Sting, The Usual Suspects, Ant-Man, The Dark Knight Returns, Army of the Dead, The Bad Guys, Ocean’s Eight, Heat, Point Break, The Vault, Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves

10. Army of Thieves (I don’t see many heist films that focus so much on the safecrackers, making this one stand out.)

9. Logan Lucky (The setting and tone of this film is so different than most heist movies.)

8. Wrath of Man (This is one of the most intense heist movies I’ve ever seen, with nearly every set piece intensified by long shots.)

7. Ocean’s Eleven (I love the sheer popcorn entertainment element of this. I feel like it doesn’t quite give the audience as much information as they deserve, but the characters make up for it.)

6. Inception (Mind heist! Again, this is Christopher Nolan’s cup of tea.)

5. The Fantastic Mr Fox (This delightful stop-motion film is more than just a heist movie, but the heists are excellent.)

4. Die Hard (how clever is it to have a heist movie where there are thieves trying to break in and someone else trying to break out?)

3. Mission Impossible (like many of these movies, this is a series of heists, with my favorite being the one with Tom Cruise being lowered down into the pressure-sensitive room. All M:I movies have memorable heist scenes, but this is my favorite)

2. The Thomas Crown Affair (I’m referring to the Pierce Brosnan version, which starts and ends with two superb heist scenes)

1. Inside Man (I’m not sure any heist movie will ever top this one. The entire movie is the heist. Every minute, even when you don’t realize it.)

Are any of these on your list? What did I miss, in your opinion?

16 thoughts on “My Top 10 Favorite Heist Films”

  1. There is a Spanish tv series on Netflix you might want to try. La Casa De Papel. It might make your list! (Ok, its not a movie, so it wont, But still)

    Reply
    • I thought about Indiana Jones, and I agree, they’re very close to being heist movies. I’d put them more in the “treasure hunt” category, though.

      Reply
  2. These are all good! Have you seen “Sneakers” from 1992? Robert Redford. Very fun! One of the team members is blind which makes it interesting on how he still helps out by listening to sound.

    Reply
    • I don’t think I have seen that! That almost makes me wonder if The Matrix counts as a heist movie…. Someone on Twitter mentioned Rogue One, which I totally forgot about.

      Reply
  3. Jamey,

    Great list! I’m a sucker for Die Hard, having seen it probably a dozen times. Regarding Ocean’s 11, it’s one of only a few movies (and the only heist movie) I’ve ever watched back-to-back. I was on a flight from Hong Kong to San Francisco and after watching it the first time, and seeing how they pulled-off the heist, I had to watch it again…brilliant!

    Cheers,
    Joe

    Reply
  4. The original version of The Taking of Pelham One Two Three from 1974 is a great heist film. I generally love this genre but I haven’t done the best job finding heist movies on purpose, so thanks for this list (from which I’ve only seen 3).

    Reply

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