20 Underrated Heist Movies You Should Check Out

What makes a great heist movie? Stakes. The characters in a heist film need everything to go according to plan. So, what happens when that plan goes awry, or a last-minute complication arises? Well, you have the premise for a pretty exciting movie!

Heist films can cross genres. For example, in Christopher Nolan's 2010 science fiction masterpiece "Inception," Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) isn't trying to steal money. He and his associates have to plant an idea in someone's mind. The Fast and Furious series originally focused on racing, but 2011's "Fast Five" changed things up. Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his fellow drivers pull off a massive heist, and the franchise hasn't looked back since.

The heist movie is also a genre that has evolved over time. The original "Ocean's 11," which debuted in 1960, may be a famous film, but it's not actually very good. However, Steven Soderbergh's brilliant 2001 remake managed to take the original high concept and marry it to a compelling story. Basically? If you're a heist movie fan, there are plenty of options out there beyond the obvious choices. At the very least, these 20 movies are definitely worth watching.

American Animals

The most exciting part of a heist movie is usually the robbery itself. However, "American Animals" is more about the anxiety that the characters face after executing their plan. It's painfully realistic, and for a good reason: "American Animals" is based on a true story. The film is inspired by an incident that occurred in 2004, in which four students from Transylvania University stole priceless books from their school's library. In addition to the cinematic recreations of the events in question, director Bart Layton incorporates interviews with the real criminals into the film.

Warren Lipka (Evan Peters) has always been a rebel; he is also told that he is an embarrassment to his father's legacy. And so, it's not much of a surprise when Warren enlists his younger friend, Spencer Reinhard (Barry Keoghan), to help him perform a dangerous heist. Although Spencer is nervous about stealing, Warren promises  that no one will get hurt. In order to further their plans, the duo recruit two more students, Chas Allen (Blake Jenner) and Erik Borusk (Jared Abrahamson), to join their team.

During the actual heist, Warren is forced to harm the school's librarian, Betty Jean Gooch (Ann Dowd). Spencer is haunted by the shocking moment. He also discovers that Warren doesn't actually know what to do with the books they stole. Although Warren had claimed to have contact with black-market buyers, Spencer begins to doubt that he is telling the truth. "American Animals" is unique among heist films in that the characters are not motivated by greed. Warren, Spencer, Chas, and Erik are simply looking for something exciting to do, and they're unprepared for the consequences of their actions.

Ocean's Thirteen

Steven Soderbergh's "Ocean's" series is unique. While the original film put together a fun group of characters that audiences wanted to root for, the 2004 sequel, "Ocean's Twelve," took the series in a very different direction, subverting expectations with its tongue-in-cheek humor. However, while "Ocean's Twelve" is certainly underrated, "Ocean's Thirteen" also deserves more love. The 2007 film was a fitting send off for the franchise's great cast.

"Ocean's Thirteen" finds a compelling reason to bring the crew back together. After he is deceived by the cruel casino owner Willy Bank (Al Pacino), Reuben Tishkoff (Elliot Gould) has a heart attack. In response, Danny Ocean (George Clooney) decides to reassemble the crew and get revenge for their friend by robbing Bank's new casino, disrupting its opening. However, in order to do so, Danny is forced to team up with an unexpected ally: Terry Benedict (Andy Garcia), the villain from the first film. Of course, the two are still at odds; Danny ultimately betrays Terry and forces him to give his portion of the take to a charitable cause.

The Old Man & the Gun

Over time, the heist genre grew very popular, thanks in part to the legendary Robert Redford. Redford starred in many iconic capers, including "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid," "The Sting," and "Sneakers." In 2018, Redford returned to the genre that helped make him famous with the heartwarming crime comedy "The Old Man & the Gun." The film, which may feature Redford's final starring role, is a fitting tribute to his career; the film even includes footage from some of Redford's older films in the flashback sequences.

"The Old Man & the Gun" was loosely inspired by the amazing true story of Forrest Tucker, a career criminal who became famous for repeatedly escaping from prison. Tucker's story was chronicled in David Grann's 2003 article for The New Yorker. Although he robbed many banks and escaped from prison 18 times during his lifetime, Tucker always presented himself as a gentleman, and his victims always seemed to remember his kind nature.

In "The Old Man & the Gun," Redford delivers one of the best performances of his entire career, which is no small feat considering his filmography. In his old age, Tucker doesn't want to slow down, but he finally finds a reason to consider retiring. After a heist, Tucker pulls over to help a woman stuck on the side of the road. Jewel (Sissy Spacek) is charmed by his friendliness, and Tucker begins to fall in love with her. However, police detective John Hunt (Casey Affleck) is determined to track Tucker down, leading Tucker and Hunt to realize they have more in common than they initially realized.

The Trust

Nicolas Cage may be one of the best actors of his generation, but he's also one of the most inconsistent. Even though Cage starred in many blockbusters and awards contenders in the 1990s, he also had very public financial difficulties in the 21st century. As a result, Cage started appearing in low quality action, crime, and thriller films to pay off his bills. Cage has stated that he doesn't regret appearing in any of these projects, and claims that he has never "phoned it in." Still, even if Cage is proud of his work, a lot of these films are borderline unwatchable.

On the surface, "The Trust" looks like one of the countless other direct-to-video Cage movies. However, it's a surprisingly self-aware and dark crime thriller. "The Trust" takes advantage of Cage's reputation, and the actor turns in a playfully over-the-top performance as corrupt police Lieutenant Jim Stone, who decides to rob a safe that contains $200,000 in cash. Jim recruits his protege, Sergeant David Waters (Elijah Wood), to help him pull off the heist. However, Davis is uncomfortable with breaking the law, and the pair quickly get in over their head when the plan goes horribly wrong.

By introducing a more strait-laced character to interact with Cage, "The Trust" balances realism and comedy. The hilarious chemistry between Cage and Wood makes the film's moments of extreme violence even more shocking. If you've ever wanted to hear Cage quip "Here's the drill" while using an actual drill, then "The Trust" is the movie for you.

No Sudden Move

Steven Soderbergh has done more for the heist movie than any other filmmaker working today. In addition to the "Ocean's" films, Soderbergh also helmed classics like "Out of Sight," "Logan Lucky," and "The Informant!" In 2021 Soderbergh returned to the genre with the historical thriller "No Sudden Move," which explores race relations in the 1950s and examines what drives desperate characters to pull off a daring heist.

"No Sudden Move" follows an eccentric band of robbers who must work together to determine why they are hired. Detroit gangsters Curt Goynes (Don Cheadle), Ronald Russo (Benicio del Toro), and Charley (Kieran Culkin) are hired by Doug Jones (Brendan Fraser) to threaten accountant Matt Wertz (David Harbor). Goynes and Russo tell Wertz that, unless he gives them critical documents belonging to his employer, General Motors, they will kill his family. Wertz reluctantly complies. Charley attempts to kill Wertz's family anyway, and Goynes is forced to kill Charley. Goynes then discovers that the heist was a set up, and that the documents that Wertz gave them are fake.

After police detective Joe Finney (Jon Hamm) starts digging into the story, Goynes, Russo, and Wertz are all forced to go on the run. The performances from the entire cast, many of whom are playing against type, are excellent. Fraser isn't necessarily known for playing villains, but he gives a menacing performance here. As always, Soderbergh does a great job at capturing the time period's small historical details, too.

Now You See Me

The 2013 crime thriller "Now You See Me" adds a fun new element to the heist movie formula: magic. The film centers on a group of magicians who act as Robin Hood-esque thieves who steal money from the upper classes. Robbers Danny Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg), Merritt McKinney (Woody Harrelson), Henley Reeves (Isla Fisher), and Jack Wilder (Dave Franco), who go by the stage name "The Four Horsemen," perform elaborate robberies during their stage shows.

As a result, FBI agent Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo) is desperate to track them down, and recruits ex-magician Thaddeus Bradley (Morgan Freeman) to assist him in his hunt. After retiring from the stage, Thaddeus started a career as a professional magic defrauder, exposing other magicians' tricks. The Horsemen are funded by insurance salesman Arthur Tressler (Michael Caine). However, they expose Tressler's corruption during one of their shows, and reveal that Arthur has been stealing money from his clients.

In addition, the Horsemen take orders from a mysterious group of elite magicians  known only as "the Eye." As Thaddeus and Arthur close in, the Horsemen search for the mastermind who has planned out all of their operations; along the way, they make a shocking discovery about one of the Eye's members, a twist that completely redefines the entire film.

The Taking of Pelham 123

When a story has already been told many times, a remake has to work hard to justify its existence. For example, the 1974 film "The Taking of Pelham 123" is a classic heist thriller based on Morton Freedgood's 1973 novel of the same name, which also inspired a television adaptation in 1998. Does that leave any room for something new to say? Scott's 2009 remake of the original film certainly makes a compelling argument that it does; while the film homages the previous adaptations, it doesn't feel indebted to them in the slightest.

Here, Denzel Washington stars as Walter Garber, a hardworking subway dispatcher for New York's Metropolitan Transportation Authority. While working, Garber receives a threatening message from a man known only as "Ryder" (John Travolta), who has hijacked a train with his associates Bashkin (Victor Gojcaj), Emri (Robert Vatag), and Phil (Luis Guzman). Ryder tells Garber that, unless he receives $10 million in the next hour, he will begin executing the subway passengers. For every minute after the deadline passes, a hostage will die. This forces Garber to come up with a quick plan to get everyone out safely.

Scott deftly shows how all of New York's public officials work together to solve this crisis. The mayor (James Gandolfini) realizes that Ryder is trying to disrupt the city's financial infrastructure, but knows that saving the victims is more important than the cash. Even though NYPD Lieutenant Vincent Camonetti (John Turturro) has his doubts about Garber's loyalty, he ultimately helps track down Ryder.

The Place Beyond the Pines

Derek Cianfrance's masterpiece "The Place Beyond the Pines" shows the long-term ramifications of a heist gone wrong. The film explores how two families' lives become intertwined after a violent incident during a robbery, and Cianfrance examines how guilt, trauma, and loss change over time. It's an overwhelming emotional experience, and its unusual structure distinguishes it from other heist films.

Ryan Gosling stars as Luke Glaton, a stunt motorcyclist with a criminal past. Luke's girlfriend, Romina Gutierrez (Eva Mendes), has just given birth, and Luke realizes that, in order to provide for his son, he will need to return to a life of crime. After Luke robs a series of banks, the strait-laced police detective Avery Cross (Bradley Cooper) tracks him down, fatally shooting Luke after an extended chase.

Avery has to live with the guilt of taking a life, and when a group of corrupt cops attempt to take the stolen money from the evidence locker, Avery struggles to maintain his integrity. He confides in his wife, Jennifer (Rose Byrne), and decides to dedicate himself to becoming a great father. Years later, Avery and Luke's sons become friends. However, A.J. Cross (Emory Cohen) and Jason Glaton (Dane DeHaan) do not know how their families are connected. After learning about the circumstances of his father's death, Jason decides to get revenge on the Cross family, but while he corners Avery, Jason cannot bring himself to kill someone.

The Brothers Bloom

In some heist films, the goal is less important than the art of the con itself. This is certainly the case in Rian Johnson's hilarious 2008 crime caper "The Brothers Bloom," which is all about the performative nature of con artists. Two brothers, Bloom (Adrien Brody) and Stephen (Mark Ruffalo), have been pulling off hustles since they were children. However, although they've worked together for almost their entire lives, Bloom does not completely trust his brother. Stephen tends to exaggerate the truth, and often does not reveal his plans to Bloom until the last possible minute.

The Bloom brothers decide to rob the wealthy heiress Penelope Stamp (Rachel Weisz) of her fortune. However, Bloom discovers that Penelope couldn't care less about the money. Penelope has grown isolated because of her wealth, and when Bloom realizes that she's seeking excitement, he allows Penelope to join their team. This creates further tension between the brothers. Bloom feels like Stephen never acts sincerely, and with Penelope, Bloom can finally be emotionally vulnerable. He grows to resent his brother's deceptive nature.

Mark Ruffalo delivers one of the most hilariously eccentric performances of his career in "The Brothers Bloom." As the film goes on, Stephen's plots become increasingly ridiculous; every trick has another trick hidden inside of it. However, Johnson takes the romantic storyline very seriously. Both Bloom and Penelope feel like there is something missing in their lives, and working together allows both characters to find fulfillment.

The Good Liar

Any film that focuses on an intimate dynamic between only two characters requires great performances. Thankfully, "The Good Liar" just so happens to feature two of the most beloved actors of all time. Ian McKellen and Helen Mirren deliver some of their strongest work in recent memory in Bill Condon's 2019 crime thriller, which forces the viewer to question which character is really the mastermind. 

McKellen stars as Roy Courtnay, a lifelong swindler who looks for targets online. Although he looks like a kind-hearted old man, Roy reveals his brutality early in the film, mercilessly killing an assailant within the film's opening moments. Meanwhile, Roy has been scamming a wealthy widow, Betty McLeish, who he met through an online dating service. Although he is beginning to fall in love with Betty, Roy tries to get her to invest in an insurance scam. Betty seems to be completely ignorant of Roy's ulterior motives, despite the protests of her grandson, Steven (Russell Tovey).

After facing pressure from his employers to meet their monetary demands, Roy attacks Betty in her home. That's when she reveals that she has been manipulating him the entire time. Roy realizes that their history goes back much further than he realized; in the 1940s, Betty lived in Nazi Germany under her real name, Lili Schröeder, where Roy (whose real name is Hans Taub) sexually assaulted her. She's been plotting her revenge ever since.

Money Monster

The best heist movies give thieves compelling motivations to pull off the perfect crime. Even if the main characters are just looking for money, it's much more interesting if the film opens up a larger conversation about wealth disparity. As such, Jodie Foster's 2016 thriller "Money Monster" deconstructs the ways in which criminals are portrayed by the media. Why are people who are simply desperate depicted as monsters? The film also questions what extreme circumstances it would take for the upper class to actually listen to those in need. Although it doesn't condone violence, "Money Monster" does show how shocking headlines generate public interest.

George Clooney stars as the charismatic television host Lee Gates, who hosts a financial advice program called "Money Monster." Gates is very popular, but has received blowback from critics for catering to privileged viewers. While Gates is taping a live episode, robber Kyle Budwell (Jack O'Connell) breaks into the studio. Kyle takes the entire crew hostage, but forces them to keep filming, interrogating Gates live on air. After realizing that Kyle had invested in a doomed stock on his advice, Gates begins to open up about his faults.

Foster treats these serious issues with sensitivity. Ultimately, it's not Gates who is the villain; he is only the product of a corrupt system. Similarly, while he's presented in a sympathetic light, Kyle is not the hero of "Money Monster." In fact, a moment when his girlfriend, Molly (Emily Meade), berates him for stigmatizing their financial difficulties, may be the most powerful in the film.


Counting cards while playing blackjack is technically against the rules, but it's not exactly the premise for an exciting heist movie. However, the 2008 thriller "21," which is based on Ben Mezrich's non-fiction novel "Bringing Down the House," has thrills to spare. "21" follows a group of students who strategically counted cards in Las Vegas. Even if you don't know how to play blackjack, director Robert Luketic tells a compelling story about the consequences of greed that anyone should find entertaining

The film's main character, Ben Campbell (Jim Sturgess), is based on real MIT student Jeff Ma. Ben has a genius-level IQ, but struggles to pay for his education. Although Jim passes the entrance exam for Harvard Medical School, the $300,000 tuition fee is too steep. However, Jim realizes that his brilliant mathematics skills could be put to a different use. Although he doesn't know how to play cards, Jim is invited to join the MIT blackjack team by his favorite teacher, Micky Rosa (Kevin Spacey).

After the blackjack team ventures out to Nevada, Jim quickly earns enough to pay for school. He becomes increasingly greedy, however, and decides to stay in Vegas to keep playing. Sturgess adeptly shows how Jim becomes corrupted by the gambling lifestyle. After Jim loses all of his winnings, Micky betrays him, and Jim decides to turn the tables on his former mentor and get revenge. And thus, the heist is on.

American Heist

While the term "direct-to-video" usually has negative connotations, many VOD films are hidden gems. Sometimes, working on a scaled-back budget can be a benefit. The thriller "American Heist" is not a particularly original work; the film feels very similar to the crime films of Martin Scorsese and Michael Mann. Still, if you're going to steal, you might as well steal from the best.

In general, Hayden Christensen isn't given the credit he deserves. Just look at "American Heist," which features a very sympathetic performance from Christensen. His character, James Kelly, is an aspiring business owner who is trying to forget his criminal past. James had fallen into a life of crime because of the influence of his brother, Frankie (Adrien Brody). Unfortunately, James' plans to launch his own independent business are rejected, and he's forced to help Frankie pull off a robbery in order to save his life, making him confront a past he'd rather forget.

30 Minutes Or Less

Ruben Fleischer's 2011 dark comedy "30 Minutes or Less" is a hilarious parody of the heist movie genre. It is the ideal action-comedy, with just enough suspense to make the most exaggerated moments work. By giving all of the characters shallow motivations, "30 Minutes or Less" offers a welcome alternative to heist films that take themselves too seriously.

Pizza delivery driver Nick Davis (Jesse Eisenberg) has never had much ambition, but he prides himself on being able to deliver orders in less than 30 minutes (hence the title). However, Nick realizes that he can't be a slacker for the rest of his life after his roommate, Chet (Aziz Ansari), kicks him out of their apartment. Soon afterwards, when Nick tries to deliver a pizza, wannabe gangsters Dwayne Mikowlski (Danny McBride) and Travis Cord (Nick Swardson) kidnap him. Dwayne and Travis strap a bomb to Nick's chest, and order him to steal $100,000. 

Dwayne and Travis aren't exactly the brightest bulbs, though, and their hasty plan has some unforeseen consequences. It's no secret why: Although they pretend to know what they're doing, Dwayne and Travis are really just trying to impress their father-in-law Jerry, played by the late, great Fred Ward.

Triple 9

Who actually benefits from a heist? That's the question that the underrated 2016 crime thriller "Triple 9" has on its mind. The intense film is set on the corrupt streets of Atlanta, and follows a group of ex-Navy SEALs, corrupt cops, Russian gangsters, government authorities, and actual law enforcement officers who are all trying to earn a stake in a bank robbery. It's a lot; "Triple 9" contains more subplots and characters than most television shows.

Thankfully, the film benefits from a truly unbelievable cast. Casey Affleck stars as the Atlanta Police Detective Chris Allen, a wartime veteran called in to investigate the murder of a fellow officer. Chris is paired with the corrupt Detective Marcus Belmont (Anthony Mackie), who leads a criminal crew that includes the former Navy SEALs Michael Atwood (Chiwetel Ejiofor) and Russell Welch (Norman Reedus), ex-cop Gabe Welch (Aaron Paul), and dirty officer Franco Rodriguez (Clifton Collins Jr.).

Before long, Chris is in over his head. Atwood is taking orders from the Russian mob boss Irina Vlaslov (Kate Winslet), who is looking to exonerate her husband, and the only cop he can trust is his eccentric uncle, Jeffrey (Woody Harrelson).

The Great Train Robbery

Michael Crichton is best known for sci-fi novels like "Jurassic Park" and its sequel "The Lost World," which were adapted into wildly successful films. However, Crichton was involved with adaptations of his work long before Steven Spielberg brought his dinosaur fantasies to life. In fact, in 1978, Crichton actually stepped behind the camera to direct "The Great Train Robbery," an adaptation of his 1975 novel of the same name. The film shares its title with the 1903 classic, which was one of the first heist films ever made.

"The Great Train Robbery" follows two charismatic London aristocrats who decide to steal a shipment of gold. The master thief Edward Pierce (Sean Connery) and the pickpocket Robert Agar (Donald Sutherland) quickly bond over their resentment of high society. Burglarizing a Folkstone train will certainly bring them monetary rewards, but Pierce and Agar are more interested in embarrassing the upper class. It's a rollicking good time, especially when Connery and Sutherland hilariously mock the stiff attitudes of the men they are stealing from.

The Score

Frank Oz's 2001 crime thriller "The Score" brought together three generations of great actors. Robert De Niro stars as the master thief Nick Wells, who is trying to perform one last heist to pay for his retirement. A younger criminal, Jack Teller (Edward Norton), gives him details about an expensive artifact that is being stored in the underground basement of the Montréal Customs House. Nick reluctantly agrees to take Jack under his wing, and negotiates a deal with his longtime fence, Max (Marlon Brando), in exchange for control over the job.

Although the plot is relatively straightforward, the excellent performances elevate "The Score" above other heist films. It was Brando's final film, and in it he showed once again why he is one of the greatest movie stars of all time. De Niro delivers a noticeably restrained performance; Nick truly wants to leave his criminal past behind him. Finally, Norton does a great job chewing the scenery. Jack uses many different disguises during his jobs, and it's entertaining to watch Norton play all of the different characters.


Wealth disparity is a major theme in heist films. Often, criminals are forced to steal in order to provide for themselves, and they often target those who have more than they need. The 2022 film "Windfall" allows two different social classes to have extended conversations. In this case, the crime has a silver lining — if the circumstances had been less extreme, perhaps these people would never have had a reason to talk to each other.

The film follows an unnamed robber (Jason Segal) who breaks into the home of a wealthy CEO (Jesse Plemons). Although the robber expects the house to be empty, the nameless tech magnate has just returned from a vacation with his wife (Lily Collins). Confused and unprepared, the robber decides to hold them hostage and forces them to meet his demands. Initially, their conversations are superfluous and slightly amusing. However, the film takes a dark and violent turn during the last act, showing that the cycle of classist discrimination is doomed to continue.

Before the Devil Knows You're Dead

In most heist films, things don't go as planned. That's what makes them so exciting. For example, the 2007 crime thriller "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead" explores the devastating aftermath of a particularly gruesome crime gone wrong. The film is told in a nonlinear fashion by legendary filmmaker Sidney Lumet, and serves as a gripping study of guilt, loss, and familial relationships.

"Before the Devil Knows You're Dead" follows two brothers, Andy (Philip Seymour Hoffman) and Hank Hanson (Ethan Hawke), who decide to rob their parents' jewelry store. Hank, however, is uncertain about Andy's plan. Andy has always resented their father, Charles (Albert Finney), and although Andy and Hank plan to execute the burglary without any violence, the heist results in the death of their mother, Nanette (Rosemary Harris). They are then forced to live with their shared guilt, which is further complicated by the demise of an accomplice, Hank's affair with Andy's wife, Gina (Marisa Tomei), and Charles' dogged attempts to uncover the truth behind the crime.

Killing Them Softly

Andrew Dominik's 2012 crime thriller "Killing Them Softly" was not well-received when it was first released. It was actually one of the rare films to earn an "F" CinemaScore from audiences. Although viewers may have expected a straightforward heist film, "Killing Them Softly" is a deeply symbolic examination of the lasting ramifications of the '00s financial crisis. Dominik even sets the story during the 2008 United States presidential election to make his point clear.

"Killing Them Softly" follows the dim-witted robbers Frankie (Scoot McNairy) and Russell (Ben Mendelsohn), who rob Markie Trattman's (Ray Liotta) Mafia-fronted card game, disrupting the mob's entire financial infrastructure. Prior to the crime, the mob had chastised Markie for staging a fake robbery at one of his games, and the gangsters now suspect that Markie is pulling off another con. So, the mob dispatches the remorseless hitmen Jackie (Brad Pitt) and Mickey (James Gandolfini) to kill Markie, Frankie, and Russell.