10 Greatest Heist Movies Ever Made

Hollywood has created quite a few captivating heist movies, but these 10 are the best.

By Rick Gonzales | Updated

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The plan, says the mastermind, just can’t fail. The reward: a boatload of diamonds, jewels, priceless art, or even cash. The team said mastermind puts together are experts in all things thievery, and everything’s a go. Until those necessary bumps in the road appear. Welcome to the world of the 10 greatest heist movies ever made.

A heist movie is only as good as the twists that make trouble for our “experts”. Of course, we can’t forget about the prize and just how crazy the scheme may sound, but it is the roadblocks that make the film. Just how much can our thieves endure and still walk (or run or fly or boat) away with the prize? Here are the 10 greatest heist movies ever made—see how many you agree with.

10. The Italian Job (1969)

heist movies

Granted, some of you may only know the Mark Wahlberg 2003 remake (remake, you say?) of The Italian Job (which wasn’t too shabby a flick, we’ll admit), but it doesn’t hold up to the original 1969 Michael Caine heist caper. Before Caine became Christopher Nolan’s Batman overseer, he proved his worth in a number of films, including this one, with a lot of style and some wonderful comedic timing. If you doubt Caine’s comedic chops, look no further than 1988’s hilarious (remake) Dirty Rotten Scoundrels with Steve Martin.

Here Caine plays Charlie Croker, the recently released from prison life-long criminal who goes right back at it after the prison doors open. Here he puts together a group of men who have their sights on an armored security truck filled with gold bullion that is being transported through Turin, Italy. He is joined by Noël Coward, Benny Hill, Tony Beckley, and Rossano Brazzi in this fun heist movie.

9. Ocean’s Eleven (2001)

heist movies

Frank Sinatra’s 1960 film of the same name got itself an updated remake in 2001 from director Steven Soderbergh, and the result was an immensely entertaining film that starred the likes of George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Julia Roberts, Casey Affleck, Scott Caan, and Andy Garcia. While the ‘60s film was a wonderful watch, this remake definitely is one of the best heist movies made.

Clooney stars as Danny Ocean, a criminal who has just been released from prison and has ideas for a massive heist in Las Vegas. He wants to pinch the Mirage, the Bellagio, and the MGM Grand, and he needs a crew to get it done. It’s a fun watch, a clever caper, and a film that leads to numerous sequels.

8. Logan Lucky (2017)

heist movies

There must be something about heist films that Steven Soderbergh finds attractive because, after his success with the Ocean’s franchise, he returned in 2017 to bring in James Bond himself for another great heist movie. In fact, the genre must be really satisfying because Soderbergh came out of retirement to direct the movie.

Logan Lucky stars James Bond’s Daniel Craig, Channing Tatum, Adam Driver, Katie Holmes, Hilary Swank, and Seth McFarlane and tells the story of the Logan family who is out to retrieve some money from the Charlotte Motor Speedway from its underground pneumatic tube system set up to shuttle enormous amounts of money to safety. It’s a daring job, but someone has got to do it.

7. Inside Man (2006)

heist movies

Sometimes, a heist movie can fail when they are too smart for their own good. Inside Man is not one of these. It boasts an excellent cast, led by Denzel Washington, and is directed by Spike Lee. Washington is Detective Keith Frazier, a man in charge of negotiations concerning a bank robbery and hostages. Clive Owen plays Dalton Russell, the thief who claims to have committed the perfect robbery.

What makes Inside Man so riveting is that beneath it all, there is a lot going on. The crime, such as it is, has more to do with just the robbery. Jodie Foster and Christopher Plummer also star in one of the best heist movies produced.

6. Heat (1995)

heist movies

The Heat build-up, rightfully so, was centered on the two massive movie stars who were leading the cast— Al Pacino and Robert DeNiro. The two heavyweight Hollywood actors had been in a film together before, the 1974 Academy Award-winning The Godfather Part II, but they never shared the same scene. In Heat, that was all about to change.

The film is built around the two legends, Pacino as Lt. Vincent Hanna as he chases DeNiro’s career criminal Neil McCauley who, with his crew that includes Val Kilmer, Jon Voight, and Tom Sizemore, are in for one last bank robbery worth $12.2 million. While the heist is the appetizer, the main course is the six-minute coffee scene in which Pacino and DeNiro finally get to share some screen time. It is a masterclass in acting and one that only heightens the tension as the final bank robbery plays out.

5. Reservoir Dogs (1992)

heist movies

What a feature film debut for director Quentin Tarantino. Violent, bloody, and shocking, Tarantino’s film, which he wrote, directed, and has a part in, tells the story of a group of gangsters who have carried out a diamond heist. As they all regroup in a warehouse, they begin to talk about the heist and how they believe it was a setup because it didn’t go as planned.

Tarantino let audiences know from the start just what type of writer and director he was going to be with this excellent film. The cast includes Harvey Keitel, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, Chris Penn, and Steve Buscemi.

4. Dog Day Afternoon (1975)

heist movies

Dog Day Afternoon tells the true story of a bank heist gone terribly wrong and stars Al Pacino along with John Cazale, two stars reuniting after having played in The Godfather Part I and The Godfather Part II (“You broke my heart, Fredo”). Pacino plays real-life crook Sonny Wortzik while Cazale plays his partner-in-crime, Sal Naturile; two men with high expectations when they enter the Chase Manhattan Bank, hoping to relieve it of its funds.

What they don’t realize until inside is that they are attempting a heist after the bank’s big money has been removed, and there is now only $1,100 in cash. What comes next is a stand-off of epic proportions (“Attica! Attica!”) between the bank robbers and the police.

3. The Sting (1973)

heist movies

Simply one of the best heist movies on the planet, the film stars the legendary duo of Paul Newman and Robert Redford in their second of two films together (the excellent Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid was the first). Newman is Henry Gondorff, and Redford is Johnny Hooker, two grifters who have their sights on conning a mob boss, Doyle Lonnegan, played by the excellent Robert Shaw (Quint in Jaws).

The film is an elaborate heist whose preamble to the actual heist is just as fun and thrilling as the heist itself. Gondorff and Hooker go to great lengths and with a large number of people to set up Lonnegan. The Academy Award-winning film (nominated for 10, winning 7 to include Best Picture) is also known for one of the most notable theme songs, Scott Joplin’s “The Entertainer”.

2. The Killing (1956)

heist movies

The Killing was the third film on director Stanley Kubrick’s resume, and it was a great heist movie. Although it didn’t fare well at the box office (horrible U.S. release), the film was a critical hit. It stars Sterling Hayden (excellent as the corrupt Captain McCluskey in 1972s The Godfather) as Johnny Clay, the criminal mastermind who puts together a five-man team to execute a daring robbery at a local racetrack.

Johnny has just been released from prison after serving five years and is now looking for one big score so he can settle down and marry his girlfriend Fay. The heist, set up at the racetrack, centers around a sharpshooter taking out the favorite racehorse as a way to distract the crowd and allow the heist to begin. It ends up being successful, but as in all great heist movies, nothing goes as planned.

1. Rififi (1955)

heist movies

Rififi, if you have never heard of it (shame on you), is one of the great heist films of all time. The film is French and made by blacklisted Hollywood director Jules Dassin and was filmed on a low budget in France with all no-name actors. The result was an amazing piece of cinema.

The film tells the story of four criminals who plan an almost impossible heist of a Rue de la Paix (in Paris) exclusive jewelry shop. What makes this film memorable and considered one of the best heist films is that the actual heist is a nearly half-hour scene showing the intricate heist, which Dassin films in near silence, with no dialogue and no background music to accompany the robbery. It is wonderful filmmaking.

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