The Best Oddball Heist Movies You’ve Never Seen

loophole

Loophole (1981)

An American architect (Martin Sheen) living in London with his family struggles to make ends meet after losing his job. He finds a new opportunity when he’s brought on for a high-paying freelance gig by a stranger (Albert Finney). It seems too good to be true, and then the other shoe drops when he discovers they need his help to rob one of the city’s biggest banks.

Director John Quested’s second and last feature is a slick and entertaining heist film featuring two rock-solid lead performances and a classic embrace of the sub-genre’s format. The team comes together, the pieces fall into place, and the heist itself becomes a tense, nail-biting affair as things start going wrong the closer they get to the end. Jonathan Hales’ (High Road to China) script keeps the plot tight while allowing the characters room to breathe and grow making for a suspenseful third act.

Sheen gives a far more subdued performance than those he’s best known for, but his calm demeanor works well to create a family man with principles who’s blindsided by the situation. He makes a great straight man for the criminal shenanigans heading his way. Finney is equally strong in the flashier role and has fun as a confident crook with a sense of humor. Fans of either actor and heist flick aficionados in general should make a point of giving this one a spin.

[Buy Loophole on Blu-ray/DVD]

the thieves

The Thieves (2012)

Two teams of thieves, on Korean and one Chinese, come together in Macau in order to steal a multi-million dollar diamond. Each side, and each individual team member, brings a necessary element or talent to the job, but they also bring an unavoidable uncertainty when it comes to their loyalties.

At the risk of being labeled “the guy who includes a South Korean movie in every list,” I couldn’t very well offer up some lesser-known heist film favorites without giving a mention to this recent action/comedy gem. It was a monster hit in its homeland, but as with the overwhelming majority of subtitled films, its American audience fell on the small side. It’s a shame as Choi Dong-hoon (Assassination) delivers some terrifically entertaining action sequences and set-pieces involving high-flying acrobatics, high-tech gadgetry, and an endless string of con jobs. A fight ‘n’ chase scene down the side of a building is especially memorable.

It’s every bit from the Ocean’s 11 school of balancing light-hearted thrills and laughs, and it’s heavy on both thanks to a sharp script and a talented cast. Being a Korean film, it does play fast and loose with tone and bounces energetically between the goofy and the serious, but it’s rarely less than serious fun.

[Buy The Thieves on Blu-ray/DVD or watch via Amazon Video]

the best offer

The Best Offer (2013)

An eccentric art dealer (Geoffrey Rush) helps wealthy estates value their artwork and antiques for auction. While he’s good at his job he’s also very, very bad. He and his partner in crime (Jim Sturgess) periodically claim real art pieces are forgeries, and then they keep the real piece and return a forgery. His latest job sees him working for a young woman with a formidable collection, an extreme shyness, and a heart he can’t help but fall for.

Writer/director Giuseppe Tornatore will always be best-known for the acclaimed Cinema Paradiso, but this beautifully affecting little drama/thriller is every bit as deserving of praise. The film works beautifully as a character piece with one of Rush’s best performances, but there’s a genius to the way it layers in the criminal elements as integral to both the story and characters.

The dealer and his friend make grand plans for their latest mark’s collection, but conversation over the objects reveals interests and motivations destined to get in the way of their score. It’s something of a slow burn heist, creating a fresh approach of sorts, and it builds to an ending that satisfies, surprises, and lands with more emotion than heist movies typically manage. Tornatore’s film is a beautifully-shot and methodical thriller, and while it’s lacking big stunts and action sequences there’s an intensity to the drama and to Rush’s need for connection that exhilarates all the same.

[Buy The Best Offer on DVD or watch via Amazon Video]

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