Welcome to my movie blog, containing reviews and articles. I've been writing since 2004 - with a short break during 2009.

"What you do is act like a professional..."

Last year, I went to Wyoming, discovered and subsiquently devoured westerns for a few months. This year has definitely been for crime flicks - I've blitzed the classics, and somehow got through 6 heist movies. And I've still got Heist to watch on video.

So here's my analysis on how to plan the best bank job, with informtion gleaned from Ocean's Eleven, Reservoir Dogs, Dog Day Afternoon, Heat, Rififi and Asphalt Jungle. Added: Inside Man, The Hot Rock, Buster. But, hey. Spoiler warnings! Judicious amount of blacking out below. So to start with, the films individually:

Ocean's Eleven (Clooney version...)
Robs: Three casinos, simultaneously
with: 11 guys. No duh.
Plan: 5/5 This was total geniuswork.
Loot: 5/5 Three Casinos? This could easily be the biggest take of the lot, even if you do have to divide it eleven ways.
Police ineptitude: 5/5 Is there even a single policeman in here?
Casualties: 5/5 Everyone makes it.
Total: 20/20. You want to be in on this heist
And the film: Slickly edited and very cool, the twists feel a bit contrived, forced in as an afterthought to make the plot more Sting-y. Nevertheless, it's a fun watch. Review here.

Robs: One bank, one security van
with: about four or five guys...memory a little hazy...
Plan: 4/5 - well none of them were staggeringly complex, but they worked, and that's what counts.
Loot: 3/3 - not a fortune, but it looked pretty nice to me.
Police ineptitude: 2/5 - these guys are good. They're on to them for most of the movie.
Casualties: 2/5 - everyone involved in the heists got it in the end, methinks.
Total: 11/20 - not a complete disaster. Could have been a success with a bit more common sense.
And the film: It's long and slow, and personally I didn't like it that much. But it was very well made, the directing and music was great and the acting was lovely - I could see how someone could like it. Review here.

Reservoir Dogs
Robs: Jewelry store
with: *counts* 6 guys.
Plan: 3/5 - not too bad. Walk in, get diamonds, walk out. It's armed robbery - how much subtlety is required? And theoretically, the plan worked.
Loot: 4/5 - "Juicy, junior. Real juicy..."
Police ineptitude: 1/5 - I'm tempted to put 5/5, because letting the crims go through with the jewels wasn't the brightest idea they ever had, but then again Mr O's very existence is proof that someone in the department was feeling switched on.
Casualties: 1/5 - At 14+, this wins the prize for the highest death toll. 8 criminals, at least 4 policemen, and a whole load of civilians (including one pregnant woman). It's a massacre. You do not want to be within two blocks of this one...
Total: 9/20 - ...and you certainly don't want to get any closer. This was a freefalling disaster. Though they do have the best conversation. And taste in music.
And the film: There are a lot of complaints one could make about this film...but I'm not gonna mention any of them. This is the weirdest feel-good film ever, and I love it far far too much. Similarly incoherent review here.

Robs: Mapplin and Webb jewelry store
With: *counts* four guys. Nice work!
Plan: 5/5 - They disable two witnesses silently, beat an unbeatable security system, actually factor in a whole four hour period to tap through the floor and use an umbrella.
Loot: 4/5 - a pretty nice pile of diamonds. Now, Mr Pink says his share of the cash was so big he ignored his "bad feeling". I figure Rififi's loot looks about the right size to fit in that bag he's got them in, so I figure they're worth similar amounts. And plus, as there are only 4 guys here and 8 in the other, the cut would be far bigger. Now that's logic for you!
Police ineptitude: 4/5 - they try. They fail. But they do put in a little effort.
Casualties: 1/5 - Mado survives...and the kid...and Fredo's wife...and presumably Fredo himself, though we never see him on screen...and every other named character perishes one way or another. This is probably a direct result of the bad luck caused by them opening that umbrella indoors...
Total: 14/20 - gets points for being truly brilliant, right until the point it goes tits-up five minutes from the end.
And the film: sombre, but I loved it and recommend it to everyone. Review here.

Asphalt Jungle
Robs: jewellry store.
With: there's about five or six people involved altogether.
Plan: 4/5 - pretty crafty.
Loot: 4/5 - again, it's about the same amount as Rififi
Police ineptitude: 2/5 - they're hot on their tail, and if I remember correctly they turn up during the robbery itself.
Casualties: 2/5 - All the criminals die, but they get points back for not harming any policemen or civilians in the process (as far as I can recall)
Total: 12/20 - they might have gotten away with it, if not for a few flaws.
And the film: I thought it was slow paced and, to be honest, a little dull. I never really cared for the characters either. But it's widely regarded to be the grandfather of Rififi and Reservoir Dogs, and I'm greatful for that.

Dog Day Afternoon
Robs: bank
With: three guys initially, but then one backs out half way through.
Plan: 2/5 - if not for Pulp Fiction's impromptu diner hold up, this truly would be one of the worst ever. Actually, I'm being unfair. The planning was there - carrying in the guns surrupticously et al - it was just badly executed. Very very badly executed.
Loot: 3/5 - less than anticipated, but there was probably a fair bit.
Police ineptitude: 2/5 - Once they're there, they're not budging.
Casualties: 3/5 - Hardly anyone died - but then again, hardly anyone took part! One killed and the other captured is pretty dire.
Total: 10/20 - they don't even leave the bank. Now that's a disaster for you.
And the film: Long and slow burning, but fantastic. It's very tense, occasionally funny and stars Al Pacino in a very fetching costume. Mmmmm. Mini review here.

Inside Man
Robs: Safety deposit box 392
With: Four people? I think...
Plan: 5/5. Too clever.
Loot: 4/5 - Some diamonds. But nowhere near as many as the other diamond thefts.
Police ineptitude: 3/5. They try. They're pretty good. Unfortunately, the robbers are too good.
Casualties: 5/5 Apart from a guy who gets hit a bit, everyone's OK.
Total: 17/20. Very very successful indeed!
And the film: Lets put it this way. It's the only one in which I wanted the police to win. The crooks were so irritatingly smug...and the twist was weak.

The Hot Rock
Robs: a museum
With: four people
Plan: Pretty smart - 4/5
Loot: The "sahara stone" aka BIG DIAMOND. However, as they're not being paid very much for it, 3/5
Police Ineptitude: 3/5. Yes, they catch someone; they also allow two prisons to be broken into.
Casualties: 5/5! Nobody at all!
Total: 15/20. They come out unharmed, though you wonder what they're actually going to do with the thing once they have it.
And the film: Sub-Sting romp which desperately needed a Paul Newman for Robert Redford to play off. Still, for fans of well-planned capers, this one involves it all - conning, prison breaks, diamond heists, hell there's even a warehouse torture scene for Res Dogs fans in denial!

Robs: A train
with: About 20 people!
Plan: 3/5 about average. Needed to spend some more time on the getaway though...
Loot: 4/5 A lotalota cash.
Police Ineptitude: 2/5. The good ole' British bobbie is right on their tails throught.
Casualties: 1/5 None killed, if I remember correctly, but almost all captured.
Total: 10/20
And the film? Realistic film set in dour 60s Britain about the real life "great train robbery". It's very watchable, if a bit downbeat. PS yes it does star Phil Collins, but don't let it put you off.

In order of cheeryness (film):
1 Ocean's Eleven
2 Reservoir Dogs
2.5 The Hot Rock
2.75 Inside Man
2.8 Buster

3 Dog Day Afternoon
4 Heat
5 Rififi
6 Asphalt Jungle

In order of how much I liked them:
1 Please don't make me choose between Rififi and Reservoir Dogs...
3 Ocean's Eleven
4 Dog Day Afternoon

4.5 The Hot Rock
5 Heat
5.25 Buster
5.5 Inside Man
6 Asphalt Jungle

In order of success (according to scores):
1 Ocean's Eleven 20/20
1.5 Inside Man 17/20

1.75 The Hot Rock 15/20
2 Rififi 14/20 (the very fact this mess came second shows you how direly wrong the others went)
3 Asphalt Jungle 12/20
4 Heat 11/20

4.5 Buster 10/20 (not entirely a fair position when you look at the death tolls. Surely surviving in jail is better than the alternative?)
5 Dog Day Afternoon 10/20
6 Reservoir Dogs 9/20

Hmm...I disagree with that result. In Reservoir Dogs, they managed to get to the rendevous and if they'd left straight away, they'd have gotten away with it. And Mr P managed to get out with the diamonds. Dog Day Afternoon, they didn't even escape the bank.

So, on to me findings.

A few months back I commented there were two sorts of heist films - ones where you cheer at the end when it all goes right, and ones where you cheer in the middle just before it all goes wrong. And then there's Reservoir Dogs, which mucks up the chronology and skips the event entirely, so there's no cheering at all.

If this survey's anything to go on, the majority are in the latter category. While almost all the heists succeeded, surviving the aftermath proved much harder. 8/9 sets escaped with the loot, only 3/8 could have been called an ultimate success. 5/8 were got by the police, though 5/8 could also attribute their downfall to their double-dealing partners. When does it go wrong? Usually, afterwards. Only 4 of them were caught out by the police in the act - and two of those might have made it if not for the mess caused by their buddies afterwards. And as to today's title, not acting like a professional caused the downfall of the majority of failed heists.

Cinecism estimates: 100% of failed heists would have been successful had they put a woman in charge. Evidently, armed robbery and safebreaking is a man's world - not a single one of the teams above had a girl on board. But they probably would have gone better if they had. As proved by Inside Man.

My suggestions for the perfect heist:

Find three of your childhood friends - they managed a pretty complex heist in Rififi with only four, the small number makes the cut bigger and there's less people to betray you afterwards.
Make sure these are people you actually trust with your life. Take their children/girlfriends hostage and threaten do something unpleasant (i.e. make them sit through Birth of a Nation) if they try anything funny. Then, put them in a room and make them watch the nine movies above, just so they know that these things go awry very very easily, and criminals, civilians, policemen, undercover agents, snitches, girlfriends, bystanders, witnesses, informants and double crossers are all equally likely to end up in a puddle of their own blood.

Spend a fair time on the plan, but be adaptable. Always have an escape plan, and don't outstay your welcome. Unless you want to confuse the cops and outwit them throughly, get ready to drop everything flat if you feel the heat around the corner. And leave a goodly amount of time before you start splashing out with the cash - or Robert DiNiro will get veery angry and start smashing you up, along with your pretty pink vintage car.

Don't worry about the police (you've got an average four minute response time unless a patrol car happens to be passing at that very moment...but if Mr Pink's vague comment isn't good enough, study Heat's opening robbery closer and take a stopwatch). Do worry about your friends. If nothing else, make sure you are 100% certain everyone involved in the heist is 100% reliable.

And finally, make sure you take an umbrella. You never know when it could come in useful...

In other news...looks like Peter Jackson's been booted off the Hobbit. Which sucks, basically, though it wasn't all bad. At least the Hobbit appears to be on the cards. And it did mean I cou8ld involve my hapless friends in a conversation for who should replace him. In which I regurgitated all the old director cliche jokes (what do you mean Ingmar Bergman's not a great idea?!). Which was funny at the time, but I can't be bothered to repeat them...

Finally, I've submitted my top 20 to the Empire poll after a long, agonising selection process. I'm not 100% happy with it, but I'm comfortable. I just have to reword my "what films shall I pick?!" article into "favourite films I picked" and I'll post soon...


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