More noise than signal


Republished from the show notes of my other site, Fuds on Film.

Gene Hackman’s Joe Moore is coming to the end of his life of crime, and not just because an unexpected wrinkle in a jewellery store robbery means he’s finally been caught on camera. Before he can sail off into the sunset with his co-conspirator wife, Rebecca Pidgeon’s Fran, his fence, Danny DeVito’s Mickey Bergman is rather insistent that Joe and the gang pull off one last job that he’s already been setting up.

And so Joe, Fran, Delroy Lindo’s Bobby Blane and Ricky Jay’s Don ‘Pinky’ Pinkus start readying themselves to pull off an audacious gold heist from a transport plane, accompanied to their distaste by Mickey’s nephew, Sam Rockwell’s Jimmy Silk, whose inexperience and differing agendas soon complicates things.

And indeed, complicating things is very much the theme of the piece, as plans go astray, as do the backup plans, and the backup backup plans, either through bad luck or nefarious design on the parts of the various players involved in this web of deceit.

There is a school of though, it seems, that because Heist is not advancing a flashy or pyrotechnical agenda it’s not advancing the state of the art of crime capers. That’s as maybe, but what it certainly does advance is a damned entertaining film with the sort of multilayered con job plot that by this point Mamet’s honed to an art-form.

Gene Hackman is, of course, excellent, and it’s his wily performance as a man who’s always a couple of steps ahead of everyone else anchors the film, alongside solid support from Delroy Lindo. Curiously I found myself somewhat disappointed with Sam Rockwell’s turn, and I don’t think Devito quite gets his teeth properly in to his performance.

Those are minor niggles though, and overall it’s a hyper-competent and very enjoyable watch. Perhaps it doesn’t quite blow the doors off, but it certainly shouldn’t be driven into the sea.