Hollywood Heists

Greatest Hollywood Heists

If Hollywood has taught us anything, it’s the importance of a good security system – the history of Tinseltown is littered with classic move heists that see enterprising characters do their best to make their way into a secure location and make off with a haul. Sometimes they’re successful, and sometimes not, but it’s always a mentally diverting way to pass a couple of hours to watch them try! Here are eight of Hollywood’s finest heists, profiled for your viewing pleasure.

Ocean’s Eleven (2001)

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This remake of a Rat Pack classic sees eleven professional criminals and conmen team up to liberate a trio of Las Vegas casinos of their takings – and like all the finest Hollywood heists, there is a personal element at stake. All three targets are owned by the same man, an arch nemesis of gang leader Danny Ocean. Pulling together a team of eleven experienced robbers, Ocean’s gang manage to make off with their loot thanks to a number of elaborate costumes and characters, detailed surveillance, and the judicious use of explosives.


You may be forgiven for expecting the likes of George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Matt Damon to turn a few heads when they travel together, but movie logic has its own set of rules. These heist hijinks worked out so well that the Ocean’s gang would swell their numbers and return for two sequels in the following years, and you clearly can’t keep a good plan down – a spin-off with an all-female cast is planned for release.

Inception (2010)

Sometimes even the most elaborate security system won’t help protect a business from an enterprising team of heist specialists, though thankfully anybody taking notes from Inception will struggle to implement these ideas in reality – Christopher Nolan’s brain-bending science fiction classic takes place in the realm of the human subconscious.


Inception revolves around a fictional technology that allows anybody so inclined to enter the dreams of another and engage in a spot of slumbertime corporate espionage, stealing business secrets straight from the brains of those that hold them. Naturally, this provides the backdrop for an intrepid gaggle of dream burglars, led by Leonardo DiCaprio’s Frank Cobb, to be hired to conduct a heist in the mind of a captain of industry – asked by a competitor to obtain the secrets of success, and to plant the idea (the inception of the title) of selling the business in the brain of their target. Naturally, things don’t go quite as smoothly as planned – and what follows is one of the most visually striking and imaginative heist movies of all time.

The Italian Job (1969)

One of the most celebrated cinema capers of all time, The Italian Job focuses on a gang of chipper Cockney crims who plan to steal $4million from the mafia, then make good their escape in a fleet of Mini Coopers (how’s that for product placement) – all thanks to an elaborate plan involving rewiring the traffic light system of Turin, leaving the rest of the city frustrated by a traffic jam.


Of course, the simple ideas and complex realities of pulling off such a heist are at odds, and nothing goes quite according to plan – giving birth to some of the most oft-quoted lines in cinema history (all together now – “you’re only supposed to blow the bloody doors off!”). The heist itself, meanwhile, is the epitome of British 1960s cool, and the chase that follows remains just as pulse-pounding today as it did in 1969. You may not want Charlie Croker and his gang attempting to break into your own premises, but they are a whole lot of fun to spend time with as a spectator.

The Fast and the Furious 5 (2011)

theft, stolen, robbery, crime

Formerly the preserve of teenage boys and fast car fetishists, the Fast and the Furious franchise is now one of the most profitable in Hollywood history – and a large part of that success stems from the sharp handbrake turn employed by the fifth installment, which reinvented the DNA of the series as a sequence of elaborate heists.


Fast Five sees all our favorite characters from the previous movies reunite, also bringing a few new friends along for the ride, for an elaborate plan to lighten the conscience and wallet of a Brazilian mob boss to the tune of $100million. A classic heist follows, involving more car chases, flying bullets and testosterone-heavy dialogue delivered by muscle-bound action heroes such as Vin Diesel and Dwayne Johnson than almost anybody could hope to handle. The result, if you’re in the right frame of mind and can cope with this much noise in your heist hijinks, is a whole lot of fun.

Point Break (1991)

The original Fast and the Furious was actually considered an almost literal remake of 1991’s Point Break, bringing in cars and street racing to replace the extreme sports of this action classic. Not that there is anything wrong with taking inspiration from this tale of sunshine, surfing and stealing – there’s a reason why it’s one of the most celebrated action flicks of all time.


Heists are the central conceit of Point Break, with a gang of surfers donning masks that denote former Presidents and robbing banks. These heists are not terribly elaborate or subtle, largely involving the pointing of shotguns and a whole lot of threatening language to empty the tills of a bank (never tackling the vault, making the use of a security system largely moot), but they’re undeniably memorable thanks to the costume design of the aforementioned masks. Be honest, if Nixon, Reagan, Carter and Johnson demanded you stuff cash into a bag, you’d obey too.

The Thomas Crown Affair (1968)

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Thomas Crown is a bored, wealthy businessman that masterminds successful heists in his spare time – including the robbery of a Boston bank in the opening moments of this movie – purely for his own amusement. Never getting his hands dirty by partaking in the heist itself, Crown is a criminal mastermind – and being played by Steve McQueen, he’s also effortlessly, achingly cool.


The Thomas Crown Affair is a cat-and-mouse tale revolving around Faye Dunaway’s insurance agent cracking the case – but it’s the multiple bank robberies and heist scenes that really make this movie stand out. A remake followed some thirty years later, starring Pierce Brosnan in peak, charming Bond form and Rene Russo, which was just as thrilling – and this time focused on the theft of a priceless painting, making for a unique kind of heist. For sheer chic, however, it’s impossible to top the original.

Inside Man (2006)

Spike Lee may be better known for his urban dramas and cinematic love letters to his native New York, but this heist thriller is the most commercially successful movie of the director’s career. It’s not hard to see why; with an all-star cast and more twists and turns than a plate of spaghetti, Inside Man is a great template for any aspiring screenwriter to follow if looking to pen an entertaining heist.


A large part of Inside Man revolves around a battle of wills between cop and robber. Clive Owen pulls off a bank heist that devolves into a hostage situation, and Denzel Washington is the police officer that attempts to talk him around. Above all though, watching Inside Man will feel that though somebody has performed a heist on your own critical faculties – the plot will wrong-foot viewers every step of the way, and there is no security that will protect against superior storytelling.

The Sting (1973)

We saved the best for last. Winner of the Best Picture and Best Director Oscars in 1974 and reuniting Robert Redford and Paul Newman, The Sting is widely considered to be the best heist movie of all time – and best of all, it even takes place in Chicago.


The plot revolves around a plan to swindle a mob boss out of an ill-gained cash sum (all the best heists involve robbing the criminal classes, after all), extracting a dose of personal revenge in the process. What follows a twisty-turny series of events that will keep the viewer guessing all the while – and but still leave plenty of opportunities for re-watching, as the layers of the movie unpeel and reveal more and more secrets.


Watching heist movies reveals an almost universal truth – in most cases, crime simply does not pay. Thankfully these flicks are works of fiction, and in reality a quality alarm system would have tripped up many of these plans at the first pass. For all of your security needs, Goldy Locks has you covered.

Last Updated on May 24, 2024 by

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