Nothing can show how things can go completely, totally and utterly wrong like a heist movie. Here are a few attempted robberies that didn’t go so well, now available for immediate stealing — err, streaming on Netflix Instant.
Hell hath no fury like an enraged Philip Seymour Hoffman. Hoffman is downright scary as a ticking time bomb who recruits his dum-dum younger brother (Ethan Hawke) to rob a jewelry store — owned by their parents. Oh, that kind of bad karma can only come back three thousand fold — and boy does it. Before The Devil Knows Your Dead is a mean-spirited and depressing tale, but it’s also one hell of an acting showcase, with tour de force performances by Hoffman, Hawke, Marisa Tomei (who plays Hoffman’s wife, who’s also having an affair with Hawke) and Albert Finney as the family patriarch who makes the final move in this dark and evil game.
Dog Day Afternoon is an anti-establishment classic, with Al Pacino delivering one of his greatest performances as a guy whose idiocy trumps his well-meaning intentions (and then some). Pacino and his Godfather co-star John Cazale attempt to rob a bank to pay for Pacino’s lover’s sex-change operation and end up in a mess involving hostages, the police, the FBI — and, of course, the media. Director Sidney Lumet paints a portrait of a hot, sweltering and very bad New York day, balancing the sense of tension, danger and desperation with a scathing sense of humor (Pacino’s inciting of the crowd outside the bank with “Attica! Attica!” might be the most famous scene in the movie, and is definitely one of the best).
A bunch of armored car security guys plan to rob two of their own trucks, making it an “inside job” that will garner each of them $7 million. Hey, you gotta do what you gotta do to get ahead in this world, right? After all, new recruit Ty (Columbus Short) is struggling to make ends meet, having to take care of his little brother and all after mom and dad died. So these morons put their plan in motion, and of course someone ends up getting killed, and… well, of course it gets even worse from there. As an old-school morality tale disguised as a “gritty action film,” Armored is actually pretty good — the cast, which includes Laurence Fishburne, Matt Dillon, Fred Ward and Jean Reno — goes a long way in keeping things lively. You also get Fred Ward, who’s somehow getting even more squinty, gruff and ornery with each passing year.
Stanley Kubrick‘s racetrack heist movie is a terrific little crime drama, showcasing the director’s knack for inventive camerawork and other trademarks he would be known for in his later — and bigger — movies. The Killing is a relatively simple piece of film noir, featuring a robbery that might’ve actually worked if one of the crooks hadn’t told his cheating wife about it. The shootout in the apartment is the movie’s most impressive set piece, though Kubrick also manages to make a horse race seem oddly ominous — all in all, the film is an underrated gem, a taut and sparse tale of a group of men headed straight for a brick wall at a hundred miles an hour.
The plan to rob the Riviera Casino in Las Vegas probably would’ve gone just fine if… no, there’s no way it could’ve gone well. This story of Elvis impersonators going for a big Sin City score is filled with more double-crosses than there are Elvis impersonators (well, maybe not that many, but you get the idea), and you never quite know where it’s all headed (besides straight to hell). While it may have a bit too much plot for its own good, 3000 Miles to Graceland still manages to impressively swagger a bit with its nifty Vegas scenery, a chance to see Kurt Russell play another wisecracking sort-of hero… and the rather impressive psycho turn by Kevin Costner, who plays a genuinely evil man. Or a genuinely evil Elvis, rather.