Review: American Heist
When Adrien Brody’s criminal Frankie gets out of jail after ten years served, you might think his plot to get back in the thieving business with a new crew is the titular job. American Heist, though, strives and fails to be something sharper, deeper, and every so often its central characters, all of whom are crooks themselves, talk of the real robbers in the U.S., targeting the banking system in some sort of meta commentary.
These discussions are neither novel nor potent, and aren’t aided by anything else in the movie to make it a powerful statement. It’s as if making such remarks is enough to provoke, in the same way Seth MacFarlane substitutes shock for comedy; there isn’t anything below the surface.
Where Heist excels, though, is a tale about two brothers. Frankie’s younger sibling is Jimmy (Hayden Christensen) is a young man seemingly spared a life of crime and jail when Frankie took the fall for an act they did together. Unfortunately for Jimmy, he cares too much for Frankie, a flawed, fated character who is either way too optimistic about his upcoming plan, too naïve, or too helpless to do anything else.
Jimmy is forced to enlist with Frankie and a pair of other crooks (Akon, Tory Kittles), and of course something goes wrong. Now Jimmy has to grapple with potentially losing his relatively wholesome life – he’s a mechanic with a beautiful doting woman by his side (Jordana Brewster, who gets to do little in this man’s movie).
The English-language debut of Sarik Andreasyan, a 30-year-old Armenian director, American Heist seems more a compilation of crime film stereotypes, only occasionally stopping to try and sound smart or meaningful. However talented the stars, however thick the accents, however intense the brotherly bond, American Heist fails to rise above its generic conventions and mundane conversation.