30 Best Heist Movies of All Time
We all know a good heist movie, a very elaborate plan hatched by some savvy and interesting characters is hatched and we get to follow along. We are usually marveled by the ingenuity and wish we came up with ourselves, but no matter what it is always entertaining. Below is the list of the 30 Best Heist Movies of All Time.
#30 Set It Off
Set it off is the story of four cleaning women who have had enough. This powerful drama thriller was an early starring vehicle for Queen Latifah, Jada Pinkett Smith, Vivica A. Fox and Kimberly Elise. It also happens to be an early film by now mega director F. Gary Gray who would go on to bring the world Friday, Straight Outta Compton and The Fate of the Furious. The film’s resume aside, it is a nonstop thrill ride and so satisfying to see these blue-collar workers getting justice against the higher-ups that keep them down. This 1996 gem is an easy slam dunk for the list of best heist movies.
#29 The Ladykillers (1955)
The Ladykillers is an outrageous action-comedy about an over the top proper southern gentleman who pretends to be part of a show band and moves into an old woman’s house to practice. Turns out that not only are they actually there to dig a hole underground to perform a heist and also turns out that this old woman is a little more than bargained for. Though a little dated, the 1955 version of this film is an easy addition to the list of best heist movies, just stay away from the remake version with Tom Hanks which was a disaster.
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#28 Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid
This film is a classic buddy action adventure and a pioneer in the format coming out in 1969. Like they tend to do, Paul Newman and Robert Redford absolutely kill it with their performance, comedy and chemistry. This film is taught in school it was so revolutionary and I absolutely holds up today. Butch and the Sundance Kid are the leaders of a band of outlaws in the 1900s. They have a grand plan to rob a train, but things don’t go as well as hoped. This entry on the list of best heist movies has everything to do with a great story, great actors and a lot of fun. Check it out.
#27 Out of Sight
This film is a step above everything else mainly because of the amazing style from auteur director Steven Soderbergh but also huge career defining performances from George Clooney and Jennifer Lopez. This one was just cool, it wasn’t as much about the heist, but more about the characters, their individual relationships and the trouble they get into. The heist was cool though, Clooney would just casually walk into banks and tell the teller that he had a gun in his pocket and they need to quietly give him the cash or he was going to use it. People would just go about their day around him.
#26 The Town
After Ben Affleck got some street cred as a director with Gone Baby Gone, he wanted to make a movie that was about his first love, his hometown of Boston. The film, with an Allstar cast that includes the director, Jon Hamm, Jeremy Renner and Blake Lively to name a few, was a little film but the marketing and execution made it feel so big. The film is well done, it is about a big armored car heist and the different sides of the law coming after each other. You will be on the edge of your seat from start to finish for the #26 entry on the list of best heist movies.
#25 Three Kings
When you have George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg and Ice Cube in 1999 you already have gold but director David O’Russel (Silver Linings Playbook, American Hustle) felt the need to make a movie in search of it. The three leads play army soldiers who try and steal back stolen gold from Kuwait after the Persian Gulf War. The film has a lot of heart, you care so much about these people and you feel hopeful for humanity when they help the downtrodden that surround them. This one has elements of action and drama, but given all the marquee elements, this one has a place in history that all should be aware of. Not the most traditional heist film on the list of best heist movies, but it definitely nails the sense of adventure that goes with those titles.
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#24 The Lavender Hill Mob
The oldest titles on the list of best heist movies goes to the 1951 Lavender Hill Mob. An oppressed bank clerk who oversees the money shipments seems with his crazy neighbor to steal the gold and smuggle them out of the country as miniature Eiffel Towers. It is a bit dated but the core story and characters definitely hold up. This one stands the test of time given how revolutionary it was at the time and well put together it is.
#23 Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels
Super cool British director Guy Richie burst onto the scene with his first feature film in this caper. A ragtag group of criminals including but not limited to thugs, weed-growers, hard gangsters, loan sharks and debt collectors get involved in a hair-brained scheme to get at some Marijuana, cash and two antique shotguns. A young Jason Statham steals the show in this edgy who-dun-it.
#22 Italian Job (1969)
Back in the day, Michael Cain was about as cool and as sexy as there was. So he was the perfect leader and confidence man set to take a group of skilled thieves and pull off one of the biggest heists in history. This 1969 film was way ahead of its time and still holds up today. The banter, the stakes, the twists, the fun, it’s all there. Mark Wahlberg lead an all star cast in a remake of this in 2003, but it doesn’t a candle to the original. This slick fun ride is one of the more classic titles on our list of the best heist movies ever.
#21 Bad Santa
Who would be terrible enough to take advantage of the Santa Claus character in order to steal a bunch of cash from the needy you ask, well a very drunk and rough around the edges Billy Bob Thornton. The film is redeeming in that this mess of a person who was dealt a bad hand in life realizes the error of his ways and stands up to help. You would think you would hate Thorton but you really route for him, he is terrible at first but he does not give a f@*k about anything and does many of the things we wish we could do, like tell off idiot strangers. This entry on the list of best heist movies is warm and it is over the top funny, Bill Bob was certainly born to play this role. The sequel was just a cash grab but it is ok.
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Marvel has done a great job of building out their cinematic universe without leaving people bored and regurgitating the same format. They are instead making great movies, that happen to have the IP at the center. Ant-Man is a great example of this. The title character is a very minor character in the universe so what do they do, they wrap him up in a tremendous heist film that could stand on its own even if it dint have the Marvel brand behind it. Paul Rudd and Michael Douglas are fantastic in this film about a man who suits up in some technology that could shrink him down as needed, and then uses that technology to pull off a heist that hopefully changes the world. Though this entry on the list of best heist movies is a hybrid of things, that doesn’t make it less special.
#19 Logan Lucky
You are going to start seeing a trend on this list that stylish director Steven Soderbergh likes to make heist movies. This is the second one from him on our list but much wackier than it’s Out of Sight counterpart. The film follows Channing Tatum and his brother played by Adam Driver who are blue-collar southern types facing hard times. When Channing looks like he is going to lose his daughter, he schemes up one wacky heist that has twist after twist after twist. This film was a fun ride and it has some great actors such as the leads, Katie Holmes, Seth MacFarlane, Hillary Swank and Daniel Craig in fantastic roles you have never seen them in before.
#18 The Killing (1956)
A very early film in the short-lived career of one of the greatest directors all time, Stanley Kubrick, was The Killing. He only made 13 movies by the way. The Killing follows a group of criminals who pull off a very daring race-track heist. This one is a smaller film but the beauty is all in the direction and execution. Kubrick creates this phycological thriller of a film that really keeps you engaged and messes with you at the same time.
#17 A Fish Called Wanda
When the center of your story is a fish, you can probably expect some fun, and this film delivers. A Fish Called Wanda has achieved cult classic status over the years and for good reason. John Cleese and Kevin Kline are at their comedic prime, and Jamie Lee Curtis is as personable and sexy as she ever was. This one is more comedy than action, but its charm comes in all the double-crossing and triple crossing and all the twists the characters take. You never know who is doing what and how things are going to work out, making for a fun ride.
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#16 Thomas Crown Affair (1999)
This one was hurt a little by the fact that Pierce Bronson was basically typecast as James Bond at the time and then he went and played a character that was very much like James Bond. It was saved, however, by the great twisting story and the amazing chemistry with the female lead Rene Russo. This is an example of a remake done very well, updating the original 1968 version starring Steve McQueen. The heist tale is top-notch with an amazing story to boot. Thomas Crown is a millionaire that steals for fun and meets his match in a savory detective, played by Russo.
#15 Fast Five
Talk about the pivot of the century. The Fast and the Furious 1 hit the scene hard but over the next four movies were slowly dying a terrible death. With the release of Fast Five, the franchise brought in some new blood in the Rock and Jason Statham and moved into more of a heist film format that the small crime illegal street racing schtick. The result is everything you love about a heist film but with the high octane F&TF branding, like when they drove a car up a ramp to launch it into a helicopter to destroy it. This healthy box office shot ($630 million WW) best heist films film helped rescue the franchise and make room for like seven or eight more billion-dollar films after that.
#14 Now You See Me
No one thought this one was going to work. Magician and tough-guy-savy-criminal were not two things that went hand in hand, but the Now You See Me franchise changed all that. It makes perfect sense now as criminals are just people with say tricks, just like Magicians. The “magical” mix of different style magicians from different walks of life coming together to pull off a huge heist creates a really fun dynamic. When you are not impressed by the twists and the turns of the plan, you get that great Woody humor or some dazzling tricks from Dave or Isla.
#13 Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol
It is hard to believe that the first Mission Impossible came out in 1996 and the sixth film came out in 2018 and still at the top of its game. This particular article looks at the fourth film, Ghost Protocol, which is heralded as the savior of the franchise. It came out in 2011, five years after the panned third film. This Tom Cruise vehicle focuses on what happens when the team gets in trouble with the law and they must go rogue to clear their good name. The great piece of cinema and staple on the list of best heist movies brings all the elements of a heist film with the crazy over the top action signature brand of Mission Impossible.
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#12 The Taking of Pelham 123 (1974)
Walter Matthau is not really known for his thriller bad mama jama vibe, but he brings it in this thriller about a hijacking of a New York commuter train. A remake was made in 2009 with Denzel and Travolta, but nothing is like the original. This one has that special cat and mouse, mono e mono, back and forth. It is about the thief taking the train and the train dispatch engineer person going back and forth, playing off each other, in a very edge-of-your-seat thriller.
#11 Bonnie and Clyde
Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway were on top of their careers when they agreed to star together in this tentpole for the time, 1967. Bonnie and Clyde were a smooth criminal couple that traveled around and did whatever they wanted. Bonnie and Clyde is that brand that you just know, whenever a couple of any kind gets into trouble together in any way, Bonnie and Clyde comparisons get made. This one on the list of best heist movies really holds up and is as fun and cool as then as it is now.
Sneakers is well-loved because of the fun hijinks of the story and the reliableness of the characters. This gang is not filled with super-criminals but instead a group of normal intelligent people. And it is all led by the incredibly charming Robert Redford. His team is just going about their business when Redford rounds them up for one last job of retrieving a futuristic item from a high-security tech company. Dan Aykroyd, Sidney Poitier, River Phoenix, David Strathairn and Ben Kingsley as the villain also give top-notch contributions to this mid-nineties gem on the list of best heist movies.
#09 Dog Day Afternoon
Al Pacino plays a man who wanted to buy a sex-change operation for his boyfriend so he decided to rob a bank. Sound normal right. He is not that great at it so a hostage hold up and media circus ensues. On the surface, this seems odd, but it actually is brilliant. The Oscar-winning screenplay is so well written, with many layers, and the performance by Al Pacino is one of the best break out performances by an actor ever. This simple slice of life story gives you so much from start to finish. While not the most glitzy heist on the list of best heist films, it makes up for it in humanity.
#08 The Usual Suspects
Without spoiling anything this Oscar-winning film has a twist of all twists that will blow your mind and leave you reeling for days. Up until this point, movies could be surprising but nothing like this. The Usual Suspects follows the retelling of a crime from the perspective of five career criminals played by Kevin Spacey (he won an Oscar for this), Benicio Del Toro, Stephen Baldwin, Kevin Pollak and Gabriel Byrne. While this is a great film on its own, the sheer iconic status of this title and how groundbreaking it was should put it on your must-watch list.
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#07 Reservoir Dogs
This 1992 film was Quentin Tarentino’s directoral debut and would be that film to launch his illustrious career. It pretty much all takes place in one room but he manages to make it this huge theatrical film. A crew of criminals are put together for a heist and given color code names (i.e. “Mr. Pink”) to hide who they are. Things go wrong and it is a fight to find out who is the mole. An amazing cast of Harvey Keitel, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, Edward Bunker and Steve Buscemi make up the criminals, and they do not play good people.
#06 Point Break
Point Break is the first heist movie to bring extreme sports into the mix. This now cult classic is special because of the over the top bromance between undercover cop Keanu Reeves and surfing guru Patrick Swayze. The group of surfers don masks and go on a spree of bank robberies. Big surprise to this one, it was directed by Kathryn Bigelow, the Academy Award winning director of the Hurt Locker. They remade this one in 2015 but don’t bother, they focused on all the wrong things. This entry on the list of best heist movies is definitely #1 in quotable lines.
#05 Ocean’s Eleven
There may have not been any franchises as star-studded as Ocean’s Eleven. George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon and Julia Roberts, just to name the first four of a list that contains at least 14 names. Stylish director Steven Soderbergh brings together all the coolness of Vegas, this amazing cast, and all the good parts of a heist film and jam packs it all into this film. Originally a Rat Pack film in 1960, this 2001 remake was a successful attempt at doing a film like that justice.
#04 Baby Driver
In a feat of its own, Baby Driver is cut 100% to music. The lead character “Baby” played by Ansel Elgort has tinnitus and he listens to music via a walkman at all times to cover it up. Over his life he has built up incredible getaway driver skills that a heist ring needs and we ultimately see the rise and fall of this ring from his perspective. In a sea of superhero movies, this summer blockbuster screamed originality and really resonated with audiences. Then you have the pedigree of director Edgar Wright and the all-star cast of Ansel Elgort, Jon Bernthal, Jon Hamm, Eiza González, Jamie Foxx and Kevin Spacey which all adds up to gold.
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Style and Ryan Gosling at the top of his game, we really don’t need to say anything else. But we will, because Drive is one unique and amazing piece of cinema. Directed by unconventional filmmaker and stylistic fiend Nicolas Winding Refn, you really feel his directing and his stamp. The Cast (Gosling but also Carey Mulligan as the heart and Ron Perlman as the villain) absolutely are master class. The score alone has won countless awards. Everything about this film is great, and it is presented in a way that is not as cookie-cutter and really special.
#02 Hell or High Water
No one saw this coming. The beautiful, well-acted, well written and well-executed masterpiece shows a well crafted series of crimes, but the humanity behind it as well. Hell or High Water follows brothers Chris Pine and Ben Foster hatch a scene to save their Texas farm. A veteran Marshal played by Jeff Bridges doesn’t take too kindly to their dealings and closes in. Out of all the films on this list of best heist movies, this is one of the only ones with the proud distinction of being nominated for a best film of the year Oscar.
In 1995 director Michael Mann brought the world HEAT, a classic and gritty Los Angeles crime heist film that still holds up today as one of the best crime films ever made. When you see the shootouts in HEAT, it makes every other movie shoot out you have ever seen look like choreographed kids playing with toys. You can feel the guns fire and recoil it is so immersive and real. To boot it contains some of the best performances of the careers of Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Val Kilmer. A slam dunk #1 winner of best heist movies of all time.
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