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Directed by David Mamet.
Written by David Mamet. 
Starring Gene Hackman, Danny DeVito, Delroy Lindo and Sam Rockwell.
Release Year:  2001
Review Date:  11/17/01 


As I mentioned in my Trailer Roundup from a few weeks ago, the preview for "Heist" features one of the single-worst lines in movie history:

"Everyone needs money.  That's why they call"

And, writer/director David Mamet (other credits include "Glengarry Glen Ross", "House of Games" and "The Spanish Prisoner") throws in plenty more of those before his two hours are up, and many of them miss badly.  I haven't quite figured out what Mamet's problem with dialogue is, exactly...but, a lot of it has to do with the fact that you listen to the words and wonder if any other human being would ever really say that.

You see, in this Mamet thriller, career criminal Joe Moore (Gene Hackman) pulls off a jewelry heist to start the film, and in the course of the robbery gets spotted by a store videocamera.  Realizing that the police will be all over him soon, he decides to leave the country with his wife Fran (Rebecca Pidgeon, who is Mamet's wife in the real world).  Not so fast, says Joe's boss (Danny DeVito)...there is one last job that Joe will have to do in order to make enough money to be comfortable in his new south-of-the-border life.  So, along with partners Bobby (Delroy Lindo, close behind James Gandolfini in most film appearances this year) and Pinky (Ricky Jay), they put together a scheme to pull off a final job in order to make enough bank and get Joe's boss off of their collective backs.

Since the title of the film gives it away, the flick is about robbery and during the robbery sequences, the movie is very good.  Unfortunately, the movie that fills the gaps is not too good at all.  Mamet's calling card has always been his command of the English language, and as usual, the film attempts profane one-liners at every turn.  But, in particular, the delivery of these lines by Pidgeon and Jay come off so wooden that they almost look like they were read off of a cue card.  Pidgeon is quite possibly the worst actress on the planet, but she IS the director's wife so I guess she will always be able to find work.  She almost single-handedly ruined Mamet's much superior "The Spanish Prisoner", and she does a good job of f'ing things up here, too.

And, also standard in Mamet's films are the double- and triple-cross, and this film is no different.  I saw this film with my friend Chi today, and both of us thought the ending left a little bit to be desired, as did my friend Clay, who had seen this one last week.  If this is your first Mamet film, you might like it...but for vets, go back and watch "House of Games" again, or check out the Internet Movie Database ( to see the numerous other films that he has either directed or written for and you will see what he is capable of on a good day.

Rating:  Matinee


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09