“It’s not getting the goods, it’s getting away,” says veteran thief and boat builder Joe Moore (Gene Hackman) about the creative challenges of robbery. And he ought to know, having been through many tense moments with his partners in crime, Bobby Blane (Delroy Lindo) and Pinky Pincus (Ricky Jay). Sometimes they don’t even need words to communicate. It all comes down to trust. For those unlucky to be outside the circle well, that’s another story.
After pulling off a heist at a Manhattan jewelry store, Joe is ordered by Bergman (Danny DeVito), who financed the job, to do another one. It involves stealing a shipment of gold bars off a Swiss cargo plane. Problem is, Joe’s been caught on camera in the jewelry store, and he’s ready to retire to the Caribbean with his pretty young wife Fran (Rebecca Pidgeon), whom he characterizes this way: “She could talk her way out of a sunburn.”
Snappy dialogue sets any David Mamet film (The Spanish Prisoner, House of Games) apart from the competition. When asked if Joe is cool, Pinky replies, “He’s so cool, when he goes to sleep, sheep count him.” The mastermind robber reluctantly takes on the Swiss job. Bergman sends his nephew, Jimmy Silk (Sam Rockwell), along to keep a watch over things. This hotheaded young man can’t keep his eyes off Fran, and she does nothing to discourage him.
Heist is filled with many surprises. We expect that from a caper flick, and Mamet delivers. However, he also gives us added value. This complex story reveals the importance of always having a backup plan and the need for loyalty to our coworkers. The iron bond of trust between Joe and Bobby is something to cheer about.