Written by Stephen Cyrus Sepher & Max Adams / Directed by Scott Mann / Starring Robert De Niro, Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Dave Bautista
Riley: I want you to be the hero; I want you to save me.
In director Scott Mann’s (THE TOURNAMENT) latest action flick HEIST, Jeffrey Dean Morgan (THE LOSERS) is Vaughn, a longtime dealer at a swanky casino run by notorious gangster, “The Pope” (Robert De Niro). But while others may fear Pope, Vaughn’s been a loyal, responsible employee who’s served the business for many years and sees himself as something of a colleague. So when he finds himself in dire need of $300,000 to pay for daughter Riley’s life-saving surgery, Vaughn turns to the big boss and asks if he’ll do him a solid.
But Pope, who’s about to retire, doesn’t grant anyone any favours. He’s always run his business based on the creed that “relationships come and go, but principles are forever” and is not about to change his track record so close to the end of it. His dismissive attitude towards Vaughn’s situation results in an ugly confrontation and the frustrated father losing his job.
All hope is not lost. Cox (Dave Bautista, GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY) is a coworker not nearly as trustworthy as Vaughn and one who has been paying close attention to the dealings at the casino. He sees an opportunity for a big take and approaches Vaughn about partnering up. Given his newfound unemployed status, it doesn’t take much convincing for Vaughn to join the risky plot and they plan the heist for the following night.
Surprisingly enough, things do not go as well as planned (Really? A lunchtime planning session at the local diner isn’t enough time to coordinate and execute a dangerous mission against one of the town’s most feared mobsters?) and Vaughn, Cox and an accomplice all end up hijacking a bus to get away from Pope’s lead crony, “Dog” (Morris Chestnut, THE PERFECT GUY).
So OCEAN’S ELEVEN suddenly becomes SPEED and the hijacked bus races down the freeway as the frazzled criminals on board and police detective Marconi (played by Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Franklin & Bash) with his sidekick cop Kris (Gina Carano, HAYWIRE) all decide what to do next.
Yes, the plot sounds overdone but HEIST’s problems don’t stop there. The film also suffers from a weak script and odd casting choices. Screenwriter Stephen Cyrus Sepher (2005’s ONE MORE ROUND) struggles to find his footing, resulting in underdeveloped characters you just don’t have much emotion for. Not to mention some pretty awkward scenes, where lines like the one Marconi delivers to the Kevlar-clad Kris (“You’re rocking that vest”), are positively cringe worthy.
Then there’s the cast. Morgan gets top billing, above De Niro, and holds his own quite well. But throw in Bautista, Chestnut and Gosselaar, as well as other cast members like Kate Bosworth and D.B. Sweeney, and you’re not sure if you’re watching a blockbuster thriller or a made-for-TV Hallmark Hall of Fame flick. It’s actually quite unsettling.
Yes, this film is rather ridiculous. And that’s without all the plot twists the filmmakers throws your way too. But that doesn’t mean it’s not just a little bit of fun at the same time. It’s a thrill ride, much like the one the unfortunate hostages are on. And the pace is excellent. Mann doesn’t waste any time getting to the story and once he’s there, he doesn’t drag it on endlessly. It is much appreciated. So if you’re looking for a little mindless action and a film you’ll probably be embarrassed to admit you enjoyed, this might be the one for you.