There’s nothing quite like a good heist movie to get the blood pumping and the synapses firing, as this exciting sub-genre combines explosive action with enticing setups. Whether it’s about a band of robbers breaking into a bank or an elite team of spies extracting important information, a solid heist movie always makes for a thrilling night of entertainment. The heist movie genre has been around for over 70 years, first popping up in the 1950s and steadily gaining popularity over the decades. Now, with dozens of awesome heist movies to pick from, it can be hard to pick which one to watch.
To make your decision-making process a bit easier, we’ve whipped up a list of 10 of the best heist movies to watch. From big-budget franchises to sleeper hits, this list should provide a nice balance of action and storytelling, guaranteed to heighten your heart rate and have you on the edge of your seat. Listed in no particular order, here are 10 of the best heist movies around!
1. Hell Or High Water (2016)
Hell or High Water is a gripping heist movie with some Southern flair and was directed by David Mackenzie. Set in western Texas, the film follows two brothers, Toby (Chris Pine) and Tanner Howard (Ben Foster), who resort to robbing banks as a means to keep their family ranch afloat. Pursued by a pair of Texas Rangers including Marcus Hamilton (Jeff Bridges), the brothers must outwit the law or watch their lives crumble. Gritty and grounded, this slow-burn experience has plenty of action, but excels with its rich cinematography and excellent actor performances. If you’re in the mood for an emotional story that takes its time but never pulls the punch, check out Hell or High Water.
2. The Town (2010)
The Town is a thrilling crime drama directed by Ben Affleck and is based on the original novel Prince of Thieves by Chuck Hogan. Ripe with tension and suspense, the film follows a group of four friends from Boston, Massachusetts who decide to rob a bank. While the heist goes according to plan, things begin to become more complex when one of the bandits named Doug (Ben Affleck) falls in love with Claire (Rebecca Hall), a hostage taken from the bank. Packed with excellent camerawork, stunning shootout sequences, and confident direction, The Town is a heist film that every fan of the genre should check out.
3. Takers (2010)
Directed by John Luessenhop and starring Chris Brown, Hayden Christensen, Matt Dillon, and more, Takers is a sleek flick that centers around a band of hip bank robbers who are drawn into one last epic heist. After serving time for a previous robbery gone wrong, a member of the gang named Ghost (Tip Harris) is released from prison and convinces the crew to rip off $12 million from a pair of armored trucks. While the plot is subject to some genre tropes and thin character development, there’s enough high-octane action and some fun set pieces that earn the movie its spot on our list.
4. Inside Man (2006)
Inside Man is an intense heist thriller that was directed by Spike Lee, the acclaimed creator of hits like Malcolm X, Da 5 Bloods, and BlacKkKlansman. Ripe with character drama and criminal intrigue, this fantastic film follows a tense hostage situation during a bank robbery in Manhattan, New York. As Detective Keith Frazier (Denzel Washington) negotiates with master thief Dalton Russell (Clive Owen), things get messier when power broken Madeleine White (Jodie Foster) gets involved. Shot with a palpable atmosphere of tension, Inside Man offers amazing performances, a smart script, and some truly captivating negotiation scenes. By avoiding genre tropes and standing a well-crafted story with ambition, Inside Man succeeds with its tale of Wall Street theft.
5. Focus (2015)
Written and directed by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, Focus is a seductive drama with a romantic edge about a professional con-man named Nicky (Will Smith) who falls for his protege, the stunning Jess (Margot Robbie). Drenched in an air of glamour, the film follows these two charismatic leads as they pull off increasingly complex grifts and cons. While it might not be full of shoot-outs or explosions, Focus offers an alluring tale with enough twists and turns to keep you guessing. From elaborate head games to back-stabbing betrayals, you’ll be surprised and engaged throughout this fashionable story of crime.
6. Tower Heist (2011)
Tower Heist is a goofy and comedic action film directed by Brett Ratner that features hilarious stars like Eddie Murphy, Ben Stiller, Michael Pena, and more. After Josh (Ben Stiller), the manager of an expensive high-rise apartment complex, is foiled by a Ponzi scheme set by the building’s rich tenant, he decides to recuperate his losses by robbing the man’s lavish digs. Enlisting some help from his associates, Josh and his crew plan an overly elaborate heist set for Thanksgiving Day. As expected, the gang of inexperienced robbers runs into a slew of problems, resulting in plenty of hilarious heist antics. If you’re looking for a tale of burglary that doesn’t take itself too seriously, Tower Heist is a worthwhile pick!
7. The Italian Job (2003)
The Italian Job is a stylish heist flick directed by the acclaimed creator F. Gary Gray, best known for his work on award-winning films like Straight Outta Compton and Friday. With a star-studded cast including Edward Norton, Mark Wahlberg, Jason Statham, and more, this remake of the classic British film centers on a tightly knit group of thieves who attempt to steal a bounty of gold from their backstabbing bosses. With some awesome chase sequences, interesting characters, and a handful of fresh plot elements, this remake successfully pays homage to the 1969 original while providing a wealth of modern excitement. Whether it’s the illustrious cast or the engaging action and espionage, there’s a lot to love about this remake.
8. Ocean’s Eleven (2001)
Directed by Steven Soderbergh and absolutely packed to the gills with talent and pizzazz, Ocean’s Eleven is a remake of the iconic 1960’s heist movie. Starring George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, and more, the movie follows criminal mastermind Danny Ocean (George Clooney) and his crew of ten thieves as they attempt to rob three of the biggest casinos in Las Vegas at the same time. Guaranteed to grab your attention and hold it until the very end, Ocean’s Eleven is a wildly entertaining team-up heist movie that mixes drama, action, and a bit of comedy to create a rollercoaster ride of larceny. Set against the glitzy capital of gambling, Ocean’s Eleven is bright, exciting, and kick-started one of the most successful modern heist movie franchises.
9. Ocean’s Twelve (2004)
Ocean’s Twelve is the direct sequel to Ocean’s Eleven and once again follows Danny Ocean (George Clooney) as he and his loyal cohorts plan yet another complex heist for millions of dollars. Set shortly after the events of the first movie, Danny and his team are discovered by ex-target Terry Benedict (Andy Garcia), who demands his fortune be returned. In need of cash to repay him, Danny and his ensemble travel to Amsterdam to steal the first issued stock certificate. Unfortunately, problems arise when they are consistently foiled by a competing thief known as the Night Fox. Like the previous film, Ocean’s Twelve provides viewers with an exciting narrative full of smart twists, interesting characters, and enthralling sequences. When compared to their initial heist in Las Vegas, the crew’s time in Europe is a worthwhile sequel that’s tons of fun.
10. Ocean’s Thirteen (2007)
Ocean’s Thirteen is the third and final film in the crime-thriller trilogy directed by Steven Soderbergh and concludes the tale of Danny Ocean (George Clooney) and his band of high stakes-loving thieves. After their stint in Amsterdam, the team enjoys some time off, but are pulled back into the world of professional theft when their pal Reuben Tishkoff (Elliot Gould) draws a raw deal with the corrupt Las Vegas businessman, Willy Bank (Al Pacino). As Bank plans to open a grandiose new hotel on the strip, Danny and his squad must team up with old enemies to exact their revenge. Driven by vengeance rather than greed, the crew prepares to sabotage the hotel’s opening night and ensure Bank is driven from the city. Presented with vivid color, cheeky humor, and a heap of entertaining criminal antics, Ocean’s Thirteen is a sharply edited and excitable conclusion for the series. Satisfying, quirky, and packed with fun ideas, this flick closes out the heist trilogy in style.