G-S-T Quick 5 – Favorite Magic/Heist Themed Flicks

Magic Heist Top5 HeaderInspired by the upcoming film Now You See Me, Summit Entertainment’s magic-themed caper flick that comes out this week, we at G-S-T wanted to take a brief look back at some of our favorite as well as some seminal heist/magic based films. Granted this is a broad genre to try and wrap into a single Quick 5 list, so I’ll say right up front that I know I haven’t covered every base I could. After all, what can you do about a genre as large as the heist film and the smaller magical field? Answer: you do the best you can and scour to fit things into a neat list that covers the heavy hitters but also the less seen gems that are out there in their celluloid glory. So, without further ado, let’s get to the list

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Quick 5_The Prestige

By far my favorite film of this list, The Prestige is a film of daring and one-upsmanship that never relents. There’s magic in it, but it comes down to the competition between the two leads, Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman, with a scene-stealing appearance by David Bowie. The uniqueness here is that we are shown the actual elements of old-fashioned magic and the way the contraptions could sometimes go wrong. But it’s the darkness that is so chilling.

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Quick 5_Riffi

Riffi is often referenced as one of the leading examples of the original heist films and while it may not hold up compared to the action heavy films of today, it’s place in heist film history is certainly cemented by its breathless and nearly silent final heist sequence. There’s a chilling way to how things unfold and there’s no denying it’s absolute effectiveness in putting us in the middle of the action.

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Quick 5_The Killing

Stanley Kubrick’s The Killing is one of those rare gems from a master before he cemented his legacy as a filmmaker of an entirely different sort. Kubrick hadn’t yet made his mark with heavy hitters like A Clockwork Orange and 2001: A Space Odyssey. Sure, the almost laughable semi-documentary style with the overbearing voice-over can be grating, but one imagines that this is the kind of film that gave Quentin Tarantino the push to make a film like Reservoir Dogs with its out-of-sequence retelling. Also, I always love a “last one then I’m out” setup. Yeah, right!

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Quick 5_HEAT

A heist film list without Heat would have a definite incompleteness to it. There’s the sheer star-power Michael Mann managed to put together for this film, but there’s also the dispensing of various characters—including ones we care for—that help give it so much power. Having so many big names, whether it’s Val Kilmer (in his prime!), Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Jon Voight, Ashley Judd, Ted Levine, William Fichtner, and even a young Natalie Portman. The film wins major points for pulling back from the idea of heists and not coming off as judgmental. Instead, Mann seems to want to show the audience these creatures in their natural city habitat and how it becomes a race to get what you can and get out.

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Quick 5_Inception

Inception stands as one of the most daring films to come out in quite a while. Perhaps the sheer success of the box office haul puts that in a different light, but imagine having to sell a studio on a film wherein you are creating an original reality with an almost harrowing amount of setup and detail. The sheer amount of audience hand-holding and information funneling is pulled off with an absolutely confident and thrilling sequence of events. Some might balk and want to label this as something other than a heist film, but this deconstruction of that genre most certainly revolves around a targeted object—or idea—with heavy fortifications. Hell, they even have to be secretive about who they are. Expertly acted and well-crafted, this is the heist film run amok inside the mind.

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As I said atop this post, I know I haven’t covered every base I could and have left out a slew of both popular and unknown gems like Ocean’s 11, Confidence, Swordfish, Shade and The Brothers Bloom to name but a few but the five headlining entries above should be enough to, at the very least, get the conversation started. So tell us, what are your favorite heist/magic based caper films??