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.
10. The Usual Suspects
8. The Sting
7. The Dark Knight (really, the first scene of this movie and the first scene of The Dark Knight Returns. Can Christopher Nolan please just make heist movies?)
6. 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.)
5. Inception (Mind heist! Again, this is Christopher Nolan’s cup of tea.)
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? In perusing other lists, I realized that I need to watch Point Break, Heat, and Bottle Rocket. I also hope Ocean’s Eight is great!
[Update: Logan Lucky is fantastic and would probably be in the top 2 or 3 on this list.]