I nearly killed a twelve pack of fancy beers on Thanksgiving. The bastards of the world charged me with depraved indifference. Thanksgiving is a good drinking holiday. In fact, it is in the top three drinking holidays in the USA. It probably is actually number two, right behind the Fourth of July. Halloween would probably take the bronze. These are just my opinions, mind you. If you don’t agree, write your own fucking article. I don’t have any beer left in my fridge.
I woke up with my annual Black(out) Friday hangover and, as I checked my phone with great trepidation for caustic drunk texts, I realized I needed something to do. Jerking off and eating breakfast only take up so much of a twenty four hour day. I would rather kill time than people, so I checked the VOD to watch something. I didn’t want anything too long or thought provoking. I also didn’t want anything so bad that it bordered on a bunch of rednecks with a camcorder filming themselves getting drunk and torturing kittens. Not always acting in a professional manner made me demand the exact opposite from my entertainment. I saw something that looked suitable. Not expecting much, I chose to watch Scott Mann’s Heist.
Heist reminded me of one of those not ready for theatrical release movies HBO would show on a Thursday or Sunday Night in the early to mid 1990’s, before they were known for their excellent television shows like The Sopranos or Game of Thrones. Usually these movies starred people like Jeff Speakman, Frank Zagarino or Lorenzo Lamas. Every once in a while you would get gems like Red Rock West or The Last Seduction, both directed by John Dahl. They were usually a fun watch and went down well with a few beers with the boys. Pre-gaming with Cynthia Rothrock prepared you for the battlefield that was ladies night at the Unknown Kelly in Massapequa.
Heist is probably better than anything Albert Pyun has directed. You can take that with a silo of salt. When the movie started, I wondered if DeNiro was purposely trying to take a baseball bat to his legacy. Money talks but DeNiro must have enough coin to keep the next twelve generations of his heirs living on Easy Street. I have nipples made of gold, Greg. Could you milk me? However, as things progressed, I was thinking that he may have even been lucid when they pitched this to him.
This isn’t a classic by any means. In fact, we have seen it all before. Fuck, it is basically a Speed rip-off. Just listen to the score for Heist. Mark Mancina should be flattered. Or maybe he is on the phone with his lawyers. I don’t know how litigious the man is. Has he scored any courtroom dramas? Watching Heist, I half expected Dennis Hopper to appear and say “Very exciting, Jack.”
Then I remembered Hopper is dead.
Heist might be derivative and borrows heavily from better films, but it does it pretty well. Jeffrey Dean Morgan—looking tougher than I have ever seen him—plays Vaughn. He has a daughter who is very sick and she needs a life saving operation. Obviously, Vaughn doesn’t have health insurance. His daughter’s doctor, who is a little bit more of an asshole than Satan, gives Vaughn until 7pm on Friday (I think) to come up with the money. It’s a loan shark’s deadline. I would guess those insurance companies can hit harder than a bone breaker in a back alley.
Vaughn works in a casino and asks his boss, The Pope, for a huge loan for the operation. As he is played by Bobby D, no one is surprised that Pope is a crime boss. We are also not astonished to learn that Vaughn was once a little more than a Blackjack dealer. Finally, it’s not a shock that DeNiro’s character explains to him that he isn’t the same type of Pope that lives in the Vatican and prays for lepers. He tells him and his sick daughter to fuck off. It was this scene, however, that I started to think that Heist was going to be better than expected.
There are many, more well known big studio screenwriters that have written worse dialogue than what appears in Heist. DeNiro is playing himself, but he is at least awake for a change. Jeffrey Dean Morgan has a good screen presence. He exuded toughness, as well as love and deep concern for his daughter. We believe he would do anything to get the money he needs for his kid’s surgery. Dude’s also got a cool action movie voice. He could make some nice coin narrating documentaries or shit like that if the acting thing falls apart.
Vaughn teams up with some thugs, led by Cox, and robs Pope’s casino. Dave Bautista plays Cox as a snarling bull with the social grace of a Volkswagon full of Neo-Nazis. The robbery goes wrong and our thieves end up on a bus full of passengers. There’s no bomb this time, just the powder keg that is Cox who seems to be increasingly at odds with Vaughn. Bautista is sufficiently menacing, although he sometimes seems to over play his anger. It is a small quibble and he should have a nice long career playing these type of roles.
Badass with boobs, Gina Carano plays a cop in hot pursuit of the bus. She might not be Meryl Streep, but Carano’s acting ability seems to be as solid as her muscles. I’m not just saying that because I am afraid she would beat me up. She’s nice to look at it and she says her lines with the proper emotion. Carano and Bautista get into it briefly on the bus, but there is no epic throw down. Kate Bosworth plays Vaughn’s ex-wife and the mother of his sick daughter. She isn’t given much to do except look cute. Luckily, she looks much healthier in this than she did in that Statham flick, Homefront. I was watching that one thinking Bosworth was taking the crystal method acting too far, you know? Looks like she ate a few burgers since then.
Saved By The Bell’s Mark-Paul Gosselaar has an entertaining turn as a smartass cop. It is like watching Zack Morris lamenting the fact that he had to go work for a municipality. Zack never liked authority and we are not sure if he would respect the badge. Morris Chestnut is very good as Pope’s right hand man. He is well manicured, polite and sadistic. It is a good role for him. Chestnut has been a solid presence in Hollywood for over twenty years now.
The action in Heist is shot professionally and, thankfully, easier to follow than most films of its kind nowadays. The highlight might be a SWAT team trying to overtake the moving bus on a highway. It is cool stuff with a couple of good stunts. There are a couple of nice twists and the character relationships seem realistic. Heist won’t make anyone forget Speed, or even Under Siege 2, but you could do much worse for entertainment on a Saturday afternoon.