The sight of Robert DeNiro in full casino boss mode in the wildly unbelievable but intermittently entertaining film Heist obviously hardens back to Scorsese collaborations like Goodfellas and…um…Casino. But clearly the implications of appearing in a Scott Mann film instead of a Scorsese picture obviously calls to attention the string of terrible and often times self-mocking pictures in which DeNiro has recently appeared.
But a scene where DeNiro’s character in the film, affectionately referred to as “The Pope” lies in bed with a much younger woman and reminisces about the good times and gets in a great line about absolution suggests a sense of self-reflection in this film that is not present in DeNiro’s chain of lost films. Or at least, this is what we are led to believe in a film that somehow manages to fit in performances from accomplished athletes and fighters Gina Carano and Dave Bautista, that do not allow them to do very much in the way of way of athletics or fighting, but still maintain intimidating presences, Bautista as a security guard named Cox and Carano as a police officer named Kris, (obviously brevity is of the essence for naming conventions). Bautista and Carano are on opposite sides of the law, but sadly, much of the action takes place on a bus, (though only evokes Speed on one or two occasions. Heist features as its star an almost recognizable Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Vaughn, who is likely the least interesting part of the film and whose backstory is basically completely unnecessary.
Instead, focus upon the ludicrous set-up, fairly predictable but ingenious twist, surprise small appearances, (Kate Bosworth! D.B. Sweeney!) and general sense of morality which surprisingly permeates this seemingly simple enterprise. But ultimately, Heist succeeds on the experience of its grizzled veteran DeNiro, (as well as Morris Chestnut as his loyal employee Dog). DeNiro still harkens back to an age when he was the king of the screen, (not to mention The King of Comedy).
Heist does what it is supposed to do, and plays out in an entertaining fashion, filled with a few nice, welcome surprises. And then Mark-Paul Gosselar shows up.