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Thursday, 22 February 2018

Movie Review: Heist (2015)

Heist aka Bus 257
Cast: Robert De Niro, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Kate Bosworth, Dave Bautista, Morris Chestnut, Mark-Paul Gosselaar
Genre: Crime Thriller
U.S Box Office Gross: over $4 million

Plot: A father is without a means to pay for his daughter's medical treatment. As a last resort, he partners up with a greedy co-worker to rob a casino. When things go awry, they're forced to hijack a city bus

'Nothing Special, But Favourable Turns By Bautista & Morgan Make It A Ok'

Heist comes off as a generic & relatively subpar crime heist and action movie in the vein of Speed that whilst it doesn't do anything grand to shake up the formula and is derivative as it is, it still manages to entertain due to the performances by the main two of Dave Bautista and Jeffrey Dean Morgan, whose presence made up for the lack of good action, which it needed more of.

The first half of the film takes place in a casino heist, with the second half on a bus and operating like the 1994 movie, Speed with the passengers on board of a transit bus. When I think about it, Heist is John Q, which starred Denzel Washington, meets Speed: that is probably the best way to describe this movie. 

De Niro's Frank Silva aka The Pope is a mob boss, who smokes E-cigarettes and runs a glitzy casino named 'The Swan' with Dean Morgan as card-dealer, Luke Vaughn and Dave Bautista as a bodyguard in Cox. Luke used to be The Pope's right-hand man, but who walked away from a life of crime to turn over a new leaf by starting a family. Now divorced Luke has an ex-wife who is watching over their sick daughter in the hospital. Derrick is The Pope's new protege and replacement for Luke, who is far nastier than his predecessor & who has no qualms bending the rules & in disposing associates and people who choose to do The Pope wrong. Vaughn's daughter faces the inevitable of being taken off the transplant list, with him struggling financially. When Frank turns down Vaughn's request of $300,000 needed to foot the bill for his little girl's treatment, he teams up with Cox and the two out of desperation rob the casino and they are forced to flee on foot and end up on the run from the police. Vaughn and Cox hijack a bus and hold the passengers' hostage, whilst onboard. These token passenger characters - a few blondes, a pregnant woman, a Black guy, Asian dude, slightly crazed guy with a knife - are forgettable however and no attempts are made to carve out personalities and thus, they are unmemorable. At the end of the film, I couldn't remember who they were, nor did I care. The police are on their trail and follow the bus, with Luke finding an unlikely ally in the female cop, who senses he is a decent guy, much more so than Cox. With the authorities closing in, Vaughn has to figure out a way how to get out of this situation, alive and get the money back for his daughter's medical treatment. 

The performances are of a B-movie level as seen in many other straight- to- DVD action flicks, although, in Jeffrey Dean Morgan, and perhaps Dave Bautista, their turns are far more efficient and favourable in contrast to the others. Dean Morgan is the rational and level-headed one as Vaughn with Bautista as the irrational one and a loose cannon, who loses his cool at times. They were actually rather sound and pretty good, and that is what separates this film to say Exit Speed, which was a nifty little action B-movie, in itself, where the action was pretty good, yet there weren't many credible performances to come out of it. Meanwhile, it is sad to see Robert De Niro go down this path as Pope, having had years of massive success with movies such as The Godfather, Goodfellas, Awakenings, these days much like with Nicolas Cage, he has been reduced to (so-called garbage like) Dirty Grandpa and doing Z-movie, direct- to- DVD movies. De Niro, does, however, try to not so much elevate himself above the film, rather give the movie some clarity and quality. His character subplots felt awfully tired, however. The rest of the actors seem to be phoning it in with one-time teen heartthrob Mark-Paul Gosselaar aka Zack Morris of Saved By The Bell as a dirty cop and Morris Chestnut unconvincing as the villain. 

I was a little disappointed in the last half hour; it turned out in a way that not only did I not expect, but I expected the pay-off to be a lot more rewarding with Vaughn literally beating up the bad guys and finishing them off. But no. 

But whilst as a big picture, it wouldn't stack up so well, as a little action B-movie, Heist takes bits from action films and carves out something that is actually not too bad. With more polish around the edges, more action sequences and challenging script and further smoothing out the dynamics between Dean Morgan, Bautista, Gosselaar and De Niro's characters and giving them some further depth, that would have made it even better. 

Final Verdict:

Unlike other straight to DVD action thrillers and films of this type, it did hold my attention and movie-wise, Heist is almost on par with Exit Speed. The latter has more in terms of action, whilst the former compared to Exit Speed has the better casting. Still, at best, this is decent and is in no way a 5-star movie and it needed to be more action-oriented, although it makes more of an effort, thanks to Dean Morgan, Bautista and De Niro, who put in some effort through their turns. 

For me, they save it from this movie being even poorer. 

Just don't expect a masterpiece out of this one.


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