Heist

on November 09, 2001 by Susan Green
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   The convoluted caper at the heart of "Heist" is a sure sign that writer/director David Mamet has been trying way too hard. Although not as stilted as "House of Games" or "The Spanish Prisoner," the new film lacks credibility primarily because its protagonists are able to anticipate their opponents' every move. In addition, the classic Mamet thiefspeak is beginning to wear a little thin: Who wants to hear generations of characters referring again and again to "the thing"? Without such drawbacks, the generally solid cast might have made the thing work.

   Gene Hackman, Rebecca Pidgeon, Delroy Lindo and Ricky Jay play a quartet of slick robbers that relies on an unscrupulous fence, Bergman (Danny DeVito), for the information required to launch any new operation. During a jewelry store break-in that goes awry, a witness spots Joe Moore (Hackman). So he and wife Fran (Pidgeon) are hoping to leave the country on their well-appointed yacht. But Bergman refuses to turn over the gang's share unless they commit to carrying out "the Swiss thing," an elaborate gold-grabbing scheme that involves impersonating law enforcement officers at an airport and commandeering a cargo plane. He insists on sending his nephew Jimmy Silk (Sam Rockwell) along to keep an eye on the home team. This being Mamet, both groups are busy trying to con each other.

   Another serious problem in "Heist" is the inherent sexlessness. An erotic edge is essential in any project reaching for even a glimmer of film noir. Pidgeon is simply too stiff an actress to deliver the sensuality that Fran should radiate when Joe asks her to seduce Jimmy as a diversion. Her scenes with Hackman, whose allure never seems to waver as he ages, lack the sparkle that would make them a dynamic criminal couple. Savvy audiences want this genre to ooze with the carnal knowledge thing. Starring Gene Hackman, Delroy Lindo, Danny DeVito, Rebecca Pidgeon, Ricky Jay and Sam Rockwell. Directed and written by David Mamet. Produced by Art Linson, Elie Samaha and Andrew Stevens. A Warner Bros release. Crime thriller. Rated R for language and some violence. Running time: 107 min

Tags: Gene Hackman, Delroy Lindo, Danny DeVito, Rebecca Pidgeon, Ricky Jay, Sam Rockwell, David Mamet, Art Linson, Eli Samaha, Andrew Stevens, Warner Bros, Crime thriller, criminals, robbers
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