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The greatest heist movies ever

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Written by Tim Barnes-Clay

To celebrate the release of Ocean’s 8, here’s a look back at the greatest heist movies in the history of cinema.

Ocean’s 8 is the latest exciting new entry in the heist movie genre. This branch of the crime film is full of action and suspense. A group of criminals are organised, the robbery is planned, and then the audience finds out whether the job succeeds… or not.

5. The Killing

This early work from Stanley Kubrick doesn’t suggest his later genius, but it’s a fantastic noir film nonetheless. Sterling Hayden plans an elaborate heist of a racetrack during a horse race which we see unfold out of chronological order. The noir cinematography is enriched by a creeping sense of irony and pessimism that’s vintage Kubrick.

4. The Usual Suspects

This smart film takes place after a heist has gone horrifically wrong. Kevin Spacey plays the only survivor of the heist. This heist movie portrays him in a police interrogation recalling what happened. The story gets increasingly complex as the mystery of the crime boss Keyser Söze deepens. The climax is an unforgettable twist ending.

3. Dog Day Afternoon

Al Pacino’s gives one of his greatest performances in this movie. Based on a real-life inept robbery, the film is very funny, but also very moving as the robbers’ sense of doom increases. As well as it being a classic heist movie, it’s also worth watching just for Pacino’s infamous “Attica!” speech alone.

2. Rififi

This underrated gem was made in France by American director Jules Dassin, who had been blacklisted from Hollywood. In the film, Jean Servais leads a group of ex-cons who design a perfect robbery. Despite their technical perfection, human emotion soon leads to disaster. the heist scene is Rififi’s most daring sequence. It unfolds over a half-hour in near silence.

1. Reservoir Dogs

This explosive debut from shot Quentin Tarantino to fame. The stellar cast includes Harvey Keitel and Steve Buscemi. After a heist goes badly wrong, a gang of criminals meet back at a warehouse. The film cleverly shows them recalling past events as they work out which one of them is an undercover cop. It establishes all of Tarantino’s trademarks – the snappy dialogue, the violence, the ultra-cool soundtrack, the non-linear storytelling. A vital independent film from the most vital American director of his generation, Reservoir Dogs is a brilliant reinvention of the heist movie.