heist film

REVIEW: Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (2011)

When the IMF is implicated in the bombing of the Kremlin, it’s shut down and all agents are disavowed. Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and his team are on their own as they race against time to clear their organisations name and stop a potential nuclear war.

Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol is a thrill ride from the very beginning and the action never really stops. It does so many things right. The humour, which generally comes from all the fantastic characters and their interactions, lands every time, giving you a short rest bite before the next tense action sequence begins.

With Ethan this time are Agents Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg) and Jane Carter (Paula Patton), and analyst William Brandt (Jeremy Renner) who has his own secrets. These four characters gel together very well, and the chemistry between the four of them makes them feel like a solid team. And they need to be a solid team as just about everything that can go wrong with their mission does. The tech is faulty, they must improvise, and they have no back up.

The iconic stunt in Ghost Protocol is Ethan scaling the side of the Burj Khalifa and it looks incredible. The heights he’s at is enough to make anyone feel queasy. The whole sequence in the Burj Khalifa, both the stunt itself and everything else that happens in that building, manages to be tense, funny and exciting. It’s not just the big stunts that look good, the fight sequences are all well-shot and easy to follow.

While naturally Ethan Hunt is the lead, and Tom Cruise is the star, of this franchise, Ghost Protocol is the first film in the series where the team does indeed feel like a team that solves the problem together. Each character has multiple times to shine and show off their skills which is great. It’s not only the core team that are relevant and interesting, it’s the secondary characters too. Naturally some get more screen time than others, but you’re never bored when Russian agent Sidorov (Vladimir Mashkov) or assassin Moreau (Léa Seydoux) are on screen.

Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol is fantastic. The characters are brilliant, the action sequences are gripping, and it’s a film that never really slows the pace. It’s a non-stop action thrill ride with likeable character who you want to see succeed when all the odds are against them. It’s the best. 5/5.

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REVIEW: Ocean’s 8 (2018)

Debbie Ocean (Sandra Bullock) gathers a crew to pull off the impossible, stealing a $150 million necklace from around actress Daphne Kluger’s (Anne Hathaway) neck at New York City’s Met Gala.

Ocean’s 8 is a spin-off from the George Clooney-starring Ocean’s movies from the 2000’s. Besides from a small cameo near the beginning of the film, which is a nice touch rather than feeling desperate, Ocean’s 8 is its own thing and stands on its own merit.

There’s something immensely satisfying watching women who are good at what they do, go and get the job done. There’s all the usual types of characters when it comes to a heist film. Lou (Cate Blanchett) is Debbie’s right-hand woman, Tammy (Sarah Paulson), is a fence, Rose (Helena Bonham Carter) is the one who has to stick close to their target, Amita (Mindy Kaling) is the forger, Nine Ball (Rihanna) is the hacker, and Constance (Awkwafina) is a pick-pocket. They are all so great in their roles and the chemistry between them all is wonderful too. I have to say Hathaway is the standout when it comes to the cast’s performances. She’s the epitome of a diva here, funny, outlandish and deceptively smart too.

The heist itself is clever and manages to fool the target and the audience though Ocean’s 8 lacks the style seen in previous Ocean’s movies. That being said, the costumes more than make up for that – all these women look fabulous. The soundtrack is also pretty great too.

Ocean’s 8 is an entertaining heist film with characters you root for. I really hope there’s a sequel because I’d love to see these women steal more amazing and priceless stuff. 4/5.

REVIEW: Ant-Man (2015)

I didn’t write a review for Ant-Man when it was first released but it did make my Top Ten Films of 2015.

Recently released from prison, former-thief Scot Lang (Paul Rudd) wants to go straight so he can see his daughter Cassie (Abby Ryder Fortson) but those plans go awry when he meets Dr. Hany Pym (Michael Douglas) who needs Scott to pull off a heist to stop scientist Darren Cross (Corey Stoll) from endangering the world.

Ant-Man is a great heist film. It follows a lot of the usual tropes seen in heist stories, training montage, a crew, plans going wrong, but it also has a super-suit that can shrink the wearer and give them a disproportionate amount of strength compared to their size. The special effects and sequences when Scott is the size of an insect are innovative and a lot of fun. The scenes where Scott’s going from big to small in a blink of an eye while fighting bad guys are well-shot and exciting.

While Ant-Man’s villain isn’t particularly menacing nor memorable, it’s nice to have a superhero film where the story is on the smaller scale and the climax of the film isn’t a potential world-ending catastrophe. At this films core are a group of characters who are trying to do the right thing, even if a lot of them are former criminals.

Speaking of former-criminals Luis played by Michael Peña is a great character. His stories are hilarious and every time he’s on screen he steals the spotlight because you can’t help but smile at his antics and mannerisms. Scott’s other friends are computer-hacker Kurt (David Dastmalchian) and wheelman Dave (T.I.) while these two have less to do than Luis, they still get their odd moments and are both fun characters.

A core theme of Ant-Man is the relationship between fathers and daughters. There’s Scott wanting to be the hero his young daughter Cassie already sees in him, and there’s Hank and his strained relationship with his daughter Hope (Evangeline Lilly). How Hank and Hope’s relationship evolves over the course of the film is great because they are forced to begin to understand one another.

Ant-Man is a funny, clever heist film with superhero elements. Scott’s a great down to earth lead and the way the story uses a miniaturised hero and a lot of ants makes for a very enjoyable film. 4/5.

REVIEW: Baby Driver (2017)

Working for crime boss Doc (Kevin Spacey) as a getaway driver, Baby (Ansel Elgort) is the best in business, that is until he meets waitress Debora (Lily James) and wants to get out of the whole shady business altogether.

Baby Driver is a fun film. I thought it was fine but I did not love it. In part I feel that’s because I’ve come to realise I’m just not a huge Edgar Wright fan, I’ve never hated any of his films but they never really leave a lasting impression and I do not love them like so many other people seem to.

I feel Baby Driver can be summed up by two things – the car chases and the soundtrack. The car chase sequences are thrilling and exhilarating and I liked how they always showed off Baby’s skills in different ways. The soundtrack is full of catchy, recognisable songs and I did like how the film used the soundtrack (and sound in general) however having a film that constantly had a backing song was a bit grating at times.

Baby has tinnitus, meaning he constantly has a ringing in his ears, and he uses music to block it out. It was the way the film showed how Baby heard sounds, like how it got quieter when he took an earbud out so it was like you were in his shoes throughout the film, that I really liked. The whip fast editing that went with the music was cool too.

Baby Driver felt like style over substance to me. This is a film about a getaway driver so naturally there’s heists (one of my favourite things in any type of story ever) but I found myself no really being engaged with it. I think this was down to the characters. All the cast did a fine job but I didn’t get attached to or particularly like any of the characters except for Baby’s foster dad Joseph (CJ Jones).

Baby Driver is a sharp, fast-paced film. It’s full of action and thrills but it lacks that final punch of something great for me. 3/5.

REVIEW: Coin Heist (2017)

coin-heist-movie-posterWhen the principle of Dennington Prep is arrested for embezzling school funds, his son Jason (Alex Saxon) hatches a plan with three other students to do the impossible and steal from the U.S. Mint in order to save their school.

Coin Heist is a heist film (the title gives it away) but it still has some high school and family drama in it that instead of taking away from the main story, it enriches it. The four unlikely friends who come up with this plan on paper look very much like the usual high school stereotypes, but through good performances and a well-written script, the film slowly shows that they are all more than the reductive labels put on them by the genre.

Benny (Jay Walker) is the footballer whose scholarship goes down the drain when the schools’ funds disappear, Dakota (Sasha Pieterse) is the grade A student who would really rather perform, Jason is often seen as a slacker but he turns out to think quick on his feet, and Alice (Alexis G. Zall) is the hacker who doesn’t want people to see her vulnerability. They are all more than their stereotypes and seeing how their relationship grows is a pleasant surprise.

Coin Heist also has a brilliant soundtrack. It’s almost reminiscent of the 80’s teen movies sometimes, it has some techno tracks and indie music that all fits with the story so incredibly well.

Coin Heist is a fun film, with a solid cast of characters committing a clever heist that you don’t tend to see in the genre. It might be a smaller scale heist but it’s no less fun and still has the usual twists and turns seen in the genre. 4/5.

REVIEW: Thick as Thieves (2009)

thick as thieves movie poster1Veteran art thief Keith Ripley (Morgan Freeman) recruits younger crook Gabriel Martin (Antonio Banderas) to help him pull of one final job and steal two Fabergé eggs to pay off the Russian mob.

Thick as Thieves is heist film that aims for big things but doesn’t quite manage it. The heist itself is offers some interesting action pieces, especially the bit with laser-sensors, but the set up and big-reveal is overly-complicated. Instead of being satisfied with the double-crosses and the big reveal, you are left more bemused by the whole thing.

As well as the heist itself, Ripley and Martin also have to deal with the local police force led by Lieutenant Webber (Robert Forster) and the FBI breathing down their necks. It is a race against time and a game of cat and mouse that slowly reveals there’s more players than you’d expect on the board. Some of the reveals you’ll see coming while others are more of a surprise, that being said while the direction is good the script does feel a bit convoluted at times.

The highlight of Thick as Thieves really is Morgan Freeman and his chemistry with Antonio Banderas. Whenever Freeman is on screen you’re instantly focused on him and he’s just as charming as Banderas. Unfortunately their presence isn’t enough to make it anything but a mediocre heist film.

If you’re a fan of the genre you might want to check it out as it does have some fun moments but it’s nothing really new. 3/5.