PLOT: Desperate for cash, the father (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) of a terminally ill child rip-offs a violent casino boss (Robert De Niro) and finds himself pinned-down by both gangsters and the cops on a crowded city bus with his cohorts.
REVIEW: HEIST is yet another Emmett/Furla DTV wonder. While the two have been responsible for some solid, legit studio films over the last few years (including LONE SURVIVOR, EVEREST and Martin Scorsese’s upcoming SILENCE) it seems their real bread and butter is in mid-budget B-movies which often feature slumming superstars (usually Bruce Willis) in tiny, near-cameo parts, and tend to get released on VOD by Lionsgate’s Grindstone subsidiary.
While they make loads of them, these movies are never very good, but at least HEIST could be called one of their sturdier recent efforts, at least compared to VICE, THE PRINCE and FIRE WITH FIRE (all of which featured Willis). As usual for this company, HEIST features a pre-sale friendly cast. While Willis sits this one out, Robert De Niro (who co-starred in their 50-cent vehicle FREELANCERS) is-in as the main baddie. The best that can be said about De Niro as opposed to Willis showing up in these movies is that at least he seems to be trying to give a good performance, and as such his conflicted baddie winds up being more interesting than the generic villains these movies usually feature.
Despite De Niro’s billing on the poster, the real lead is THE LOSERS’ Jeffrey Dean Morgan as De Niro’s reformed right-hand man turned broke croupier. HEIST is about as un-original as the title suggests, with this playing like a bizarre mash-up of JOHN Q (desperate father/terminally ill child), SPEED (trapped on a bus) and CASINO, albeit minus any style or tension. To be fair to Emmett/Furla, HEIST is certainly better than some of their other movies with it at least not coming-off quite as bargain basement as VICE or THE PRINCE. Director Scott Mann actually directed a nifty little DTV actioner a few years ago called THE TOURNAMENT, but he has much less opportunity here to stage anything beyond the most routine action sequences.
One of the big disappointments is how MMA superstars Gina Carano and Dave Bautista are cast but not given much opportunity to display the physicality that’s made them stars. Bautista’s often quite effective as the heavy in movies like SPECTRE and (especially) GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY, but he’s not able to do much with his generic part as Morgan’s more bloodthirsty associate. For her part, Carano plays a cop, but again – isn’t given much to do physically. The other names are mostly confined to small parts, with Mark-Paul Gosselaar showing up in a few scenes as a dirty cop, Kate Bosworth in a small (but decent) part as De Niro’s estranged daughter, and Morris Chestnut as De Niro’s favorite henchman.
With all that talent involved, you really can’t help but feel like HEIST is a huge waste of all their efforts. It feels like a quick paycheck part for all involved, but I can’t help but wonder – if Emmett and Furla are so good at pre-selling these DTV B-movies, why can’t they at least hire a solid action specialist like Isaac Florentine, who could probably deliver an ace little action flick for a fraction of what HEIST cost? To their credit, they have brought on THE AGGRESSION SCALE’s Steven C. Miller to helm two of their next three (that’s right - three) Bruce Willis vehicles, so maybe he’ll at least give these routine b-flicks a boost. Until then, HEIST is passable at best, but more often than not pretty dull considering the names on the marquee. It’s sad to see so many greats slumming it in fare that’s not worthy of them.