Heist: Casino Heist Efficient But Dull!

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Heist has an incredible cast – Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Robert De Niro, Morris Chestnut, Kate Bosworth, Gina Carano, D.B. Sweeney, Dave Bautista – but between a predictable plot and some very disinterested performances, it just kinda lies there.

Heist opens on a pregnant woman getting on a bus. Cut to a group of masked men running from what looks like a riverboat while under fire. The masked men stop the bus – they’re armed – get on, and the bus speeds away.

Cut to a few days earlier…

Vaughn (Morgan) is a dealer at a floating casino – looks like a riverboat – called The Swan. He has a daughter, Riley (Elizabeth Windley) who is in the hospital being treated for cancer. She needs an operation but is in danger of being taken off the waiting list because Vaughn has been unable to pay – his insurance doesn’t even cover the cost of the current treatments.

As a last resort, Vaughn appeals to casino boss Pope (De Niro) – but Pope runs things on very specific principles and refuses him. So Vaughn, who has been approached by Cox (Bautista) about robbing the casino and refused, decides to take him up on his plan.

Things go wrong, someone dies and we have a bus with a dozen people aboard being used as a getaway vehicle – with one tiny problem: Officer Kris Bauhaus (Carano) was parked just out of sight of the bus and gives chase.

The next thing you know, there are police everywhere and Cox is on the verge of losing it.

Now Vaughn has to figure out a way to get the bus away from the police, get his share of the money without further antagonizing Cox and get his daughter’s medical expenses covered.

The two basic problems with Heist are a) a script that doesn’t exactly play entirely fair – and yet is pretty predictable and b) a cast that seems to be going through the motions.

When we need a crooked cop, there he is; when we need a hot-headed, unprofessional heist crew to be hot headed and unprofessional, there they are. The crew’s driver splits at the first sign of trouble, leaving the others to fend for themselves and yet, someone seems to have figured that would be the case.

When Kris takes it upon herself to disobey a direct order from her superior, she’s still, somehow, able to be available to work with Vaughn to keep the busload of hostages safe. When Pope’s right-hand man – the man, we learn, that could’ve been Vaughn if he hadn’t walked away – loses his $#!+, we get a reaction that may be the only one actually fairly (and subtly) set up, but it’s a revelation that Pope and Vaughn go that far back.

The screenplay, by Stephen Cyrus Sepher and Max Adams, is an attempt to fuse a heist flick with Speed. The transition between the two is awkward – there’s not really enough attention given to the actual heist (though the cutting between the planning and execution might have been fun if it hadn’t been so clunky and obvious), making the chase and resolution extend far too long. And, let’s face it, a heist that’s planned over breakfast and a cup of copy isn’t likely to be the best planned of criminal enterprises.

Bautista has spent a few years establishing himself as something more than a raging hulk in film, but Cox is such a one note character that he’s just not effective, and De Niro is playing a character that he’s played so many times that it feels like he’s sleepwalking here.

Morgan doesn’t fare much better because he has to be the one who’s completely under control at all times and that gets boring, too, after a while. The less said about Bosworth’s role the better – though she comes off better than almost everyone else. And Carano’s role is a step backward for her.

Scott Mann directs efficiently enough, but between the script and the less than totally engaged performances, he’s essentially moving deck chairs on the Titanic. And don’t get me started on the film’s resolution. Mann handles it as well as can be expected, but it feels like a cheat at best.

In short, Heist is ninety-three minutes of adrenaline-free filler. It’s not reprehensible – it’s just bad.

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