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8 classic heist movies to get you hyped for Ocean's 8

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The Ocean's films are prime examples of why the heist genre is one of cinema's best. They're exciting, glamorous and put us right at the heart of some seriously elaborate and sophisticated robberies.

We'll no doubt be getting all of the above and more this coming June, when Sandra Bullock and her all-female gang of master criminals (also including Cate Blanchett and Helena Bonham Carter) sashay onto screens in Ocean's 8. Until then, here are eight classic heist films (in order of release) to get you pumped up for the much-anticipated spinoff.


1. Rififi (1955)

The heist film as we know it today wouldn't have been the same if it wasn't for Jules Dassin's 1955 French classic, which follows a small group of professional criminals as they plan to rob a high-end Parisian jewellery store.

It doesn't really matter if you don't speak French: the film's 28-minute-long climax is shot entirely without dialogue or music, allowing you to focus solely on the meticulousness of the heist. The film is so good that some countries actually banned it, fearing criminals could use it as a guide for robbing banks. How crazy is that?


2. The Italian Job (1969)

The Italian Job follows ex-prisoner Charlie Croker (Michael Caine) as he gathers an expert (well, mostly expert) crew of criminals, with the aim of stealing $4 million in gold bars from the city of Turin.

It's a film is ripe with unforgettable moments, whether it's Croker and crew racing their Union Jack-adorned Mini Coopers through the streets of Turin or the literal cliffhanger of an ending. But thanks to Michael Caine's wonderful comic timing, there's one moment that stands tall above the rest: "You're only supposed to blow the bloody doors off!"


3. Dog Day Afternoon (1975)

If Rififi is an exercise on how to perform the perfect heist, Dog Day Afternoon is an exercise in how to mess everything up.

Based on a true story, Sidney Lumet's classic 1975 flick follows Sonny Wortzik (Al Pacino) who tries to rob a bank to pay for his criminal partner's transgender operation. Unfortunately for Wortzik, it all goes wrong right from the moment he sets foot through the door. Mishap after mishap precipitates a media circus, turning the whole thing into one, big, televised farce.

Dog Day Afternoon is widely considered to be one of the best heist movies of all time, and in 2009 it was selected for preservation in the American National Film Registry. If that isn't a sign of a classic, then what is?


4. Reservoir Dogs (1992)

Westerns, World War Two, crime – Quentin Tarantino can do it all. And as Reservoir Dogs shows, he can do a pretty mean heist film, too.

The film follows eight crooks (including Harvey Keitel, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen and Steve Buscemi) as they deal with a diamond heist gone horribly wrong. The reason for the balls-up, it turns out, is that the whole thing was set up by someone within the group.

What follows is a bloody tale of intrigue and suspicion, one that only a director as skilled as Tarantino could tell with such style and panache. It put him on the map, and remains one of the most nail-biting and brilliant heist movies ever made, even though we never actually see the heist take place.


5. Heat (1995)

Michael Mann's hugely influential cops and robbers classic (a clear stylistic influence on the likes of The Dark Knight) is a sleek, epic story of disconnected cops and robbers in Los Angeles.

Possessed of a chilly, melancholy visual style, it discovers the loneliness in arch-rivals Vincent Hanna (Al Pacino), an L.A. cop, and dedicated robber Neil Macauley (Robert De Niro). In the process, they discover they're not as different from each other as they may think…

The movie's extraordinary centrepiece is a bank heist undertaken by Neil's gang, with an ensuing gunfight that spills over into the streets. Mann's famous commitment to realism, including the deafening sounds of actual rounds being used on set, plus the actors' plausible reloading techniques (not to mention the input of former SAS soldier Andy MacNab), make it an unforgettable scene.


6. Mission: Impossible (1996)

Think breaking into a bank is hard work? Trying breaking into the CIA headquarters. That's exactly what IMF agent Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) does in Mission: Impossible in a desperate attempt to prove his innocence after he's accused of being a mole (not the mammalian kind, though that would make for pretty entertaining viewing).

The film isn't your traditional heist movie – Hunt's after information that will clear his name, not a boatload of cash – but you'd be hard-pressed to find anyone who can't recall the film's pivotal scene. It's where Hunt infiltrates a highly-protected computer room by descending from the ceiling upside-down like some kind of superspy-Spiderman hybrid – and it's impossibly good.


7. Ocean's Eleven (2001)

From the all-star cast, led by George Clooney and Brad Pitt, to the glitzy Las Vegas setting, there's no shortage of reasons to give Steven Soderbergh's 2001 hit remake another watch.

It sports everything you'd want from a heist flick (suave master-thieves, ratcheting suspense, a casino-sized bounty), while also managing to keep the genre fresh by only revealing the plan as it's actually happening (most heist films explain the plan to the audience before it's performed).

The film was so well received that it spawned two sequels: Ocean's Twelve and Ocean's Thirteen. And now, this coming June, we'll be treated to a brand new Ocean's flick fronted by an all-star, all-female cast, in which Sandra Bullock plays Debbie Ocean, estranged sister of Clooney's Danny.


8. Inception (2010)

Instead of infiltrating a bank or vault, the tech-heist specialists in Christopher Nolan's masterful Inception, led by Leonardo DiCaprio's expert thief, invade their target's mind. And instead of stealing valuables, they plant an idea – which will prove immensely valuable to their employer Mr. Saito (Ken Watanabe).

That's just a very brief explanation of an impossibly intricate yet utterly engrossing film, one involving complex themes of dreams and reality that will twist and weave inside your head like a riddling, mind-bending snake.

The famously cerebral Nolan couldn't just make any old heist movie, could he?


This June's Ocean's 8 is highly unlikely to leave us feeling robbed. With its all-star cast, plus direction from The Hunger Games filmmaker Gary Ross and a reported cameo from Ocean's Eleven star Matt Damon, the movie is sure to deliver the goods. Check out the trailer below, ahead of the film's release on 8th June.

Liam Turner is an Unlimited card holder who blogs for Cineworld as part of our news team.