In recent years, the great Robert De Niro has earned something of a bad reputation. Seemingly accepting any job offer he gets, almost everything he’s been in during the last 10 years has either been some truly awful tat (ie. The Big Wedding) or something that is so ‘meh’ it’s hardly worth talking about (ie. Killing Season). Occasionally, he’ll use his old age and charming demeanour to truly bring something to a film, such as in last year’s The Intern. But more often than not, he thinks he’s still 1990s De Niro, and turns up in some generic, cliché-ridden thriller as a mobster. Heist is another example of this.
Out now on DVD & Blu-Ray, Heist is a film you’ve seen a thousand times before and don’t really need to see again. Jeffrey Dean Morgan plays Vaughn, a father without the financial means to pay for his daughter’s medical treatment. As a last resort, he partners up with a co-worker (Dave Bautista) to rob the casino they work at in an incredibly misguided attempt to show he’s a good father. Things naturally go tits up, the pair end up hijacking a bus and…honestly, it doesn’t really matter. It’s shit. And for those getting excited by reading the IMDb cast-list and seeing De Niro playing ‘The Pope’, hold your horses. While I would love to see De Niro playing Pope Francis in a casino heist movie, t’is not to be. Yet. We all know De Niro would star in Pope’s Eleven any day of the week, judging by his recent filmography! But no, his character here is Frank Pope - the gangster boss of the casino. Of course he’s the best thing about the film and brings far more depth to the role than I imagine the script even included, but that’s De Niro. He might star in shit films, but he’s rarely shit in them – even if all he does here is sit around on his arse, deliver some exposition and puff away on an e-cigarette.
Jeffrey Dean Morgan is pretty solid too, and I’m sure when he starts appearing in The Walking Dead this year and earns himself an army of fans, this film – along with all of his others – will be revisited again and again and plastered all over Tumblr and Pinterest. The rest of the cast however is a mixed bag. Bautista struggles to act and just angrily snarls at people for the duration, and the delightfully named Morris Chestnut portrays The Pope’s muscle with uneven results. In the lady corner, former fighter Gina Carano brings a rather wooden performance to the table as a law-lady in pursuit of our ‘heroes’, while Kate Bosworth turns up as De Niro’s daughter for one scene then fucks off. Remember her? She used to be a big thing! She was Lois Lane in Superman Returns, for goodness sake! Oh, wait…we don’t speak of that film. Sorry.
Funnily enough, Heist is directed by a mann (ha ha) named Scott Mann. Funny why, I hear you cry. Well, because the great De Niro heist film of the 1990s – Heat – was directed by Michael Mann. Great fun, right? The most fun you’ll have with this film is that fact. Enjoy it. But anyway, on the subject of direction, Mann stages some pretty decent action. Chases and shoot-outs are exciting and credible enough for a film of this calibre, but it all feels a little desperate. And outside of the action, there’s not a lot he can do with the painfully generic and predictable screenplay by Stephen Cyrus Sepher and Max Adams, two men who clearly watched every heist movie ever and said “we can do that”.
On the whole, Heist is a pretty damn shoddy B-movie that seems one Nicolas Cage short of being hilariously bad. While you might enjoy watching it with a few beers and some mates, ready to heartily take the piss out of how predictable and mediocre it is - there’s nothing here in terms of high-brow entertainment. If you’re a De Niro fan, give it a look but be prepared to not see much of the man. Otherwise, there’s not a lot to say about Heist. It’ll be forgotten within weeks, at which point you’ll be able to pick a copy up in your local charity shop for 20p.
Heist doesn’t pull off the crime, and walks away with a poor 1/5.
Heist at CeX
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