The Definitive List of the Top 10 Heist Movies

01
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The Town

Ben Affleck and company play a cast of south Boston bank robbers that get in over their heads and have to execute one heist too far.  It's not the best heist film of all time, but it earns its stripes for trying really hard to channel the raw intense energy of Heat (see the top film on this list) and for playing it rough and gritty.

02
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Point Break (1991)

The original Point Break (not the dead on arrival remake last year) was a cultural milestone of action films:  Keanu Reeves playing Federal Agent Johnny Utah who was tasked with infiltrating a tight knit unit of bank robbing surfers that wore President masks when taking down a score.  It's all a bit silly, but it's also a lot of fun.  (Keanu Reeves early turn as a cop is so cute...much more endearing than his stern Speed turn.)

03
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Ronin (1998)

This criminally under-rated action film with DeNiro is a classic of heist and heist planning, as DeNiro and a team of now retired intelligent agents, shed by the security establishments, following the fall of Communism and now without employment or an allegiance, join forces to steal a mysterious briefcase.  If you like those films where they involve the audience intricately in the planning, before they have a snapping execution, this is a film for you.

04
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Inside Man

This film gets the award for most inventive heist of all time.  With a great cast and a cracker jack sharp execution, this is heist films at their most fun.  (Because really, you'd like to imagine yourself as the guy who came up with this ultra-clever plan to rob the bank!)  Denzel Washington plays the befuddled cop in this Spike Lee filmed thriller.  

05
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Quick Change (1990)

This criminally underrated comedy from the early 1990s is also one of the funniest heist films of all time.  Bill Murray, Geena Davis, and Randy Quaid perform the perfect bank robbery (and one that's quite clever!), all they have to do is get out of town.  But that proves to be more difficult than they thought.  

06
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Dog Day Afternoon (1975)

This early Pacino 1970s classic films the real life story of a bank robbery (one pulled to pay for the protagonist's lover's sex change operation) goes horribly, horribly wrong.  And because the script is based on real life events, the film's story has that oddball progression that can only come from reality.  One of the best all time heist films. 

07
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The Score (2001)

You know the story...the top jewel thief does things his own way, and he's almost retired, he just needs to do one more haul, a big haul, then he's done for good!  The Score takes this trite over-used convention, and runs with it, and runs with good performers like Robert DeNiro, Edward Norton, and Marlon Brando.  What's fun about this film is that it involves you in the extensive (and creative) planning to steal a valued treasure from an auction house.  The heist is creative, and actually almost plausible...maybe, if you had skills.  There's none of that, well, I'll just re-program the computers to screw up all the cameras.  This is a heist that involves the audience in the planning and then puts you on the edge of your seat for the execution.

08
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Ocean's Eleven (2001)

Although the sequels became a bit bloated and convinced of their own cleverness, the first film (and the first heist) is the best.  Of course, it's got star wattage to spare between all the movie stars and is slickly produced.  A real crowd pleasure, but just beware the imaginary cinematic helpers! (You'll have to click here to understand what I'm referring to!)

09
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Reservoir Dogs (1992)

Tarantino's first effort is still one of the best heist films ever filmed.  Mostly occurring in a hideout as the robbers of a failed heist attempt return one by one, each telling their version of the story, it's a machismo, testosterone soaked, violent film of the sort that guys love.  Cinematic classic.  And man, some great shoot outs!

10
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True Romance (1993)

This Tarantino scripted often overlooked gem, remains, even two decades later, one of the best times I've ever had at the cinemas.  Two "minimum wage kids" come into a briefcase of cash and everyone wants it back...except told as a love story, as only Tarantino can write it.  (This is early Tarantino mind you, when he was doing Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction.)

11
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Heat

Michael Mann's Heat - starring DeNiro and Pacino as a bank robber and the cop trying to get him - sounds like it is a written cliche.  DeNiro is the tough, no nonsense professional robber in for one last heist.  Pacino is the tough cop that won't let go.  Except, this film is a cinematic masterpiece of the sort that destroys cliches.  The film takes these cinematic tropes, and runs with them, making the definitive heist film of all time, and one of the best action films (and dramas also!) ever made.  It doesn't get any better than this.  As McCauley says, "Have nothing in your life you can't drop in 30 seconds when you feel the heat around the corner..."  (Also has perhaps the singular best shootout scene ever filmed in an action movie!)

12
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Die Hard (1988)

Die Hard
Die Hard.

And, of course, the top heist film of all time is 1988's cinematic action classic:  Die Hard.  The film that became one of the most influential action films, and launched an entire genre of "Die Hard in a..." films.  The story of one New York cop trying to stop a skyscraper full of international terrorists all by himself, is still one of the best, and is my vote for top heist film of all time.

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Rico, Johnny. "The Definitive List of the Top 10 Heist Movies." ThoughtCo, Feb. 23, 2016, thoughtco.com/top-heist-movies-3876245. Rico, Johnny. (2016, February 23). The Definitive List of the Top 10 Heist Movies. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/top-heist-movies-3876245 Rico, Johnny. "The Definitive List of the Top 10 Heist Movies." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/top-heist-movies-3876245 (accessed November 23, 2017).