Heist (15)

Review by Simon Bell

DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Interactive menu; cast list; theatrical trailer.

LIKE women and buses, you could say. Nowt for ages then loads come along at once.

In recent months we’ve seen Robert de Niro as the long-lived, practised safe-cracker shelving retirement for one last grand pay day in The Score. Elsewhere, and just hitting the screens, Robert Redford shirks the dotage and decrepitude forcing him into the quiet life for a final fling at what he does best in Spy Game.

The time-worn tale of the veteran pro battling senescence and senility for one more shot at The Big Time can, of course, be seen in lessc ontemporary times also: Carlito’s Way and Unforgiven explore the concept. But none does it better, perhaps, than High Noon or The Set Up.

One could go on. Nay, the allegory could be a genre unto itself.

What better then, to reinvigorate the cliché and bring it back to life with a blast, than the masterful pen of David Mamet. With punchy dialogue so cool you could puke and plot twists to make your head spin, the writer/director has single-handedly shoved a firecracker up the backside of the caper movie, lit the fuse and watched as the tiny pieces fall into a healthier and more vibrant whole.

Joe Moore (Gene Hackman) is the ageing thief with a sassy young wife and a bundle owed to him. But getting “burnt” on CCTV during a heist on a diamond boutique, Moore is forced to concede that his larcenous days are over. Now is the time, he reflects, to pursue his retirement dream and sail hist reasured boat to the peace and serenity of Floridian sunshine.

His fence Bergman (Danny De Vito at the height of his powers) however, has other ideas and insists Moore and his crew (Delroy Lindo and Ricky Jay) complete work on “the other thing”.

Shot exquisitely and with panache like a seasoned old pro itself, Heist has a surprise at every plot turn. Careful misdirections forever hoodwink and the characters’ crafty seductions persist in making a fool of anyone trying to second guess.

The fetishistic lingering lenses on the cut-off-denim-clad Rebecca Pidgeon (in a role a far cry from her previous ones in hubby’s pictures) denote a change in cinematographic style for the director.

Meanwhile, Hackman soars with this material and it gets the best out of his support (a reteaming of sorts from Get Shorty).

It isn’t love that makes the world go round, the tag alleges. It’s love of gold.

Well the performances in, and staging of, this tights-as-a-nat’s-ass thriller are 24 carat. And you’ll love it.