With the news that Ocean’s Eleven is to be once again rebooted, our love affair with the heist movies appears to be going from strength-to-strength. Adding a female cast consisting of the likes of Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, Rihanna, and Helena Bonham Carter, there can be no argument, this will be a sure-fire hit. We were wondering though, why is the heist movie so loved?
It is obvious why Hollywood itself loves a good heist, they are so easy to put together. First you take a group of popular big stars, put them together and have them take on a big common enemy. Casinos work for Ocean’s Eleven because of the one thing we can all understand, and that is greed. These huge buildings are like the ivory towers that we want to see fall. Add a fat cat like character at the top who works as a charismatic bad guy, and we just want to see them lose all his money.
The casino of course is synonymous with money, and works as a heist target because it is a system that is designed to not only take your money, but to give it back. Whether you are in the building itself or even on an online casino, that dream of winning big is always there. Of course in everyday-life there are are serious checks put in place by casinos to thwart would-be heisters. However what the heist movie does is dream of a way of changing the rules and changing the odds of the big win to the gamblers themselves. When the heist conspirators win big, they are getting one up on the big bad casinos and the fat cat owners.
The other reason casinos work with the heist movie is the elegance of the building and the effortless style they extrude. It all helps to elevate the story to another level, with bright lights and huge appeal, before the stars of the piece have even stepped foot into the building.
When looking at the new Ocean’s Eight film with a female cast, there is no surprise that we see some of the biggest stars in Hollywood cast for the film. Just like Ocean’s Eleven, Ocean’s Twelve, and Ocean’s Thirteen, it will be an event movie that people will flock to see. The fact it is a female cast will also allow Hollywood to say that it is flying the feminist flag and showing they are changing their sexist ways, which of course is a good thing.
While we’ve mentioned the casino as the victim of heist movies, there are movies that don’t feature these building at all. The rules though are still the same, as we usually see the bank as another target, an art gallery, or a big criminal organisation. The Italian Job would be a good example of a heist movie that takes a different type of victim, with the aim being to steal gold from under the gaze of the Mafia. It may not work out as expected, but it also created an iconic ending and a puzzle that has troubled film geeks for years.
What will always be the same in heist movies is the love of the money. There are never small stakes when it comes to a good heist, it has to be big and grandiose and the stakes have to be high. Even with a spectacular cast with some of the biggest Hollywood actors, there has to be a believable and enticing reason to take them on. This of course is the key to the heist movie.
The film fan in its most basic form is an easy to understand entity. What they want is for an escape from reality and to be entertained. What the heist movie does is just that, it sets up a situation that feels impossible, and puts together an enigmatic set of individuals who you know will win the day. It is a form of escapism that people dream of all the time. Even if the characters run into some dangers along the way, it just adds to the entertainment for the audience.
Looking through the history of the heist film, we have such a wealth of entertainment and also importantly a level of diversity that keeps things interesting. We’ve seen war movies like Kelly’s Heroes, classic comedies like A Fish Called Wanda, and mind-benders like Inception. Will we ever run out of ideas for a good old fashioned heist? I somehow doubt it, and honestly hope that it doesn’t happen. Maybe the next big heist should take place in space, though of course it already happened in shows like Firefly which proved that even in space, it just takes a good cast (or crew) to pull of the perfect heist for the fans.