There's nothing better than sitting back with a big bowl of buttery popcorn and watching an exhilarating on-screen caper. A good heist movie can have everything you ever want out of a film: action, comedy, drama, romance, and, of course, suspense. But even still, the suspense of a heist movie is a lot different than the suspense of a murder mystery or a horror movie. It's usually a lot lighter for one -- since the stakes on the line are rarely someone's life. Which means you can enjoy an intense movie without ever feeling emotionally drained at the end.
Interestingly enough, unlike a murder or a horror movie, most heist films are often told from the criminal's point of view. This means were getting the inside scoop on everything that's about to go down -- we're a participant in the action, rather than a bystander who's left trying to put the pieces together. Outside of the clever characters or the intricate plotline, this is ultimately what keeps heist movies so damn interesting, no matter how many we've seen.
So now it's time to see how many of these 25 heist films that you can name!
Brad Pitt and Goerge Clooney Rob a Casino
Audiences enjoy heist movies because of how cool and clever the robbers often come across as. Don’t we all wish we had the audacity and the smarts to outwit anyone and anything for a lifetime's worth of riches? But of course, no one wants to go to jail for the rest of their life. So instead, we’re left watching these super cool characters carry out their intricate plots on screen. And is there any heist movie possibly cooler than this 2001 flick starring George Clooney, Brad Pitt, and Matt Damon?
Four Nuns Rob a Bank
Ben Affleck co-wrote, directed and starred in this 2010 heist thriller, which takes place in and around Boston and builds up to the film’s criminals trying to rob Fenway Park. Affleck plays Douglas MacRay, a master bank robber who is ready to cut his losses and high tail it to Florida before the FBI is able to bring him down. The film was a box office success, which was praised by critics and even earned Jeremy Renner an Academy Award nomination for playing Affleck’s best friend and fellow thief, Jem Coughlin.
The Original Twist
Heist movies are notorious for pulling a fast one on the audience before the credits roll, showing us just how slick these criminals are by not only outsmarting the cops but the audience as well. And in that regard, this 1995 thriller may have the biggest twist ending of all time, which makes the audience question the entire story that has just unfolded. This is definitely one of those movies that you'll need to sit through again and again. The film was directed by Bryan Singer and stars Kevin Spacey, Gabriel Byre, and Benicio del Toro.
Clive Owen in disguise
This 2006 film was directed by Spike Lee and stars Denzel Washington, Clive Owen, and Jodi Foster. Owen plays Dalton Russel, the leader of an elaborate bank heist that takes place in Manhattan, while Washington plays Keith Frazier, the New York City detective who's tasked with trying to negotiate with the robbers. This clever bank heist involves the robbers making their hostages wear the same outfits as them, as well as a surprising motive for the criminals that stems back all the way to World War II.
Robert De Niro opens fire
This 1995 isn’t just one of the best heist movies of all time, it also features one of the most intense shootouts in movie history. Master crime director Michael Mann helmed this film, which stars Robert De Niro as the criminal mastermind Neil McCauley, and Al Pacino as the LAPD detective that’s trying to take them down. This movie is no light-hearted, popcorn heist film, but an intense crime thriller that will make you feel the guilt of getting in over your head.
A diamond heist gone haywire
The first feature film by Quentin Tarantino turned the heist genre on its ear by never actually showing the heist! Instead, the audience is forced to examine the robbery through each character's recollection, making us question which robber is a man of his word, and which one is actually an undercover cop. The 1992 film stars Harvey Keitel, Michael Madsen, Steve Buscemi and Tim Roth. It also features a number of Tarantino’s signature moves -- including nonlinear storytelling, pop culture references, and lots and lots of blood.
A Kubrick Classic
This 1956 film was one of writer/ director Stanley Kubrick’s first features, which centered upon an elaborate race track heist with $2 million up for grabs. Like most of Kubrick’s films, this clever heist flick was praised by critics, though it failed to find a mainstream audience while in theaters. The film stars Sterling Hayden as Johnny Clay, a master thief who plans to walk away from his life of crime after one more big score. Unfortunately, almost everything that can go wrong during this heist does.
Mini-Cooper Car Chases
This massively popular 2003 film featured an impressive cast, including Mark Wahlberg, Charlize Theron, Jason Statham and Edward Norton, among others. The film takes its title from the 1969 British heist movie, despite the plots and the characters having little resemblance to one another. The story centers around a group of criminals who plot to steal $35 million in gold from a former associate who sold them out. Plans for a follow-up film have been in the works for over a decade, though production on the sequel has remained in a standstill.
Jason Statham in the '70s
This 2008 British period piece chronicles the true story of the 1971 Baker Street robbery in which a number of the criminals ended up avoiding imprisonment and the stolen money ended up never being recovered by authorities. The film features Jason Statham as Terry, an everyday car salesman who becomes the leader of the infamous heist. The film throws plenty of fiction into the mix, but it only serves to make this lesser-known heist film that much more entertaining from start to finish.
Al Pacino chooses a life of crime
This 1975 film chronicles the real-life robbery that occurred at Chase Manhattan Bank in Brooklyn, New York in 1972. The film was directed by Sidney Lumet and stars Al Pacino and John Cazale, who play the two unconventional robbers who turn a botched bank robbery into a polarizing event, perfectly capturing the rising tensions associated with crime, law enforcement, and the media during the 1970s. Though the real-life robber has called the movie only partially accurate, this heist film received critical acclaim and won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay.
Brad Pitt's crazy accent
Directed by Guy Ritchie, this 2000 crime-comedy stars Jason Statham, Brad Pitt, and Benicio del Toro — three actors who seem to show up in a lot of heist films. Though this film does not center around a single robbery, one of the few intertwine plot lines does revolve around the search for a stolen diamond. Del Toro plays Franky “Four-Fingers,” the thief who orchestrates the opening heist, which involves him dressing up like a Hasidic Jew and stealing an 86-carat diamond out of Antwerp, Belguim and transporting it to London, England to sell on the black market.
Keanu Reeves and Patrick Swayze go surfing, brah
Directed by Kathryn Bigelow, this 1991 crime thriller stars Patrick Swayze as a surfer/ bank robber named Bodhi, along with Keanu Reeves as the young FBI agent Johnny Utah. Utah is assigned with investigating a string of bank robbers by the “Ex-President” which leads him to infiltrate a group surfers/ adrenaline junkies lead by Bodhi, whom he suspects may be the criminals. The premise may sound ridiculous, but the movie is masterly crafted by Bigelow, who would go on to direct the equally intense Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty.
Robert De Niro cracks a safe
This 2001 film starring Robert De Niro and Edward Norton is a pure heist movie, which revolves around the in-depth planning and execution of a single robbery. De Niro plays Nick Wells, an expert safe cracker who is ready to retire when he’s coaxed into one last job: break into the Montreal Customs House to steal an ancient scepter. Meanwhile, Norton plays Jack Teller, the inside man who has taken a job at the Customs House under the guise of a mentally challenged janitor.
Yippie ki yay, melon farmer!
Since this movie is often regarded as one of the greatest action movies of all time, many people forget that an ingenious heist is what actually gets this story going! Released in 1988, this action movie stars Bruce Willis as John McClane, an NYPD officer who gets caught in an LA high-rise during a robbery orchestrated by Hans Gruber, played by Alan Rickman. The twist on this robbery is that the thieves have no intention of being sneaky, and instead they pretend to be terrorists so the FBI will be called to the crime scene as another part of their master plan.
Tom Hanks in a Coen Brother's affair
Alright, so this entry may be one of the Coen Brothers weaker films to date, but that doesn’t make it any less of a heist movie. The black comedy stars Tom Hanks as Goldthwaite Higginson Dorr, Ph. D — a loquacious Souther “gentlemen” who orchestrates a casino heist. Goldthwaite hires a number of criminal accomplices, who help him dig a hole through the basement of a house where the doctor is paying rent. The plan may work, but the criminals (and fate) quickly being to turn on each other.
Paul Rudd plays a superhero
A heist that will save the world!? Stakes don’t get much bigger than that in this 2015 film that also served as the twelfth entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The film stars Paul Rudd as Scott Lang, a petty thief who becomes armed with a special suit that allows him to shrink in size. Think that would make any robbery a piece of cake? Think again. Rudd got into superhero shape to play this lesser-known comic book character and ended up signing a multi-film deal with Marvel with a sequel already planned for 2018.
Santa cracks a safe
Easily one of the filthiest Christmas movies ever made, this 2003 black comedy stars Billy Bob Thornton as Willie T. Soke, a petty thief and an out-of-control alcoholic who works as a shopping mall Santa Clause each December so he can case the joint before making off with a year’s worth of Christmas cash. The film builds up to one giant Christmas Eve heist, but things don’t go as planned when Willie’s partner in crime, Marcus Skidmore, decides that he wants to pin the crime on Willie.
George Clooney in the joint
Based on the Elmore Leonard novel of the same name, this 1998 film was directed by Steven Soderbergh and stars George Clooney, Jennifer Aniston, Ving Rhames and Don Cheadle. The film is part slick crime film and part off-beat comedy, with the story revolving around Clooney’s character, Jack Foley, who makes a living robbing banks, only to be arrested at the start of the story and locked up. But this is far from a prison movie since the super suave and resourceful Jack is able to break out and U.S. Marshal Karen Sisco (Lopez) is forced to track him down.
Joseph Gordon Levitt plays a forgetful janitor
Despite receiving critical acclaim from critics, this 2007 heist film failed to find its audience while in theaters and grossed just over $5 million against a $16 million budget. The film stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Chris, a survivor of a horrific car crash that has left him with a number of mental disabilities, including anterograde amnesia, which prohibits him from making new memories. Against his better judgment, Chris gets caught up in a bank robbery when a gang of criminals recruits Chris since he already work’s as the bank's janitor during the overnight shift.
Pam Grier's got a plan
For his follow-up to Pulp Fiction, Tarantino made this lesser known gem that was based on the Elmore Leonard novel titled Rum Punch. The film stars Pam Grier as a flight attendant who is caught smuggling money across the border for a gun dealer named Ordell Robbie, played by Samuel L. Jackson. The flight attendant because smitten with her bail bondsman, Max Cherry, and together the two plan to steal Ordell’s $500,000 fortune, despite the fact that they know that ATF will be keeping a close eye on them the entire time.
An underwater heist
This 2000 British film was directed by then first-time director Jonathan Glazer and stars Ray Winston, Ben Kingsley, and Ian MchShane. The film centers around Gary Dove (Winston) a retired safe-cracker who’s enjoying his life away from crime, when an old associate and psychotic criminal, Don Logan (Kingsley), strolls onto the scene and ropes Gary into pulling off one last heist. This film is often ranked among the best crime films made in the 2000s and even earned Kingsley and Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor.
A car heist with $100 million at the finish line
The entry into the Fast and Furious series was the first film in the franchise to take the story away solely from street racing culture and made it into a more accessible action blockbuster. The film was released in 2011 and starred many of the series regulars, including Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, and Jordana Brewster. In this entry, the old crew teams up to steal $100 million for a ruthless drug lord. The film was a box office smash, grossing over $600 million and keeping the series going strong.
Based on the real life robbers
This 1967 crime film was based on the true story of two robbers/ lovers who go on a crime spree across the United States, first robbing small time stores than graduating to full-fledged bank robbers. Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway star as the on-screen couple, and the film was considered highly controversial at the time, showing far more sex and violence on screen than any mainstream movie of that time. Despite its contentious nature, the film went on to win a number of Academy Awards and was a box office success.
Considered one of the best French film noirs of all time
After he was blacklisted from making films in Hollywood, American-born director Jules Dassin moved to France and made this film, which is still regarded as one of the best films of the 1950s. The story centers around four criminals who orchestrate a near impossible jewelry heist by ripping off a store on the most famous and well-trafficked streets in all of Paris — the Rue de Rivoli. The film is notable for capturing the heist in painstaking detail during an almost half hour robbery sequence.
Wes Anderson’s directorial debut
Most of the criminals in heist movies are at the top of their game, planning every detail of the robbery down to the exact seconds and minutes to make sure that they will not only make out with the cash, but with their freedom as well. But this is not one of those films. Wes Anderson directs brothers Owen and Luke Wilson, who plan to pull off a few heist as part of their “75-year plan.” Unfortunately, these robberies do NOT go according to plan, which all makes for a hilariously quirky movie that displays much of Anderson’s signature style.