We've talked before about heist movies in general, but there's more than a few films that feature a heist scene layered around different aspects.

Reservoir Dogs, for example, is set in the aftermath of a heist - but just one scene is devoted to it, and it's by far one of the standouts of the film. Likewise, The Dark Knight has an excellent heist scene at the start of the movie - but the film itself isn't what you'd call a heist movie.

With that in mind, here's our pick of some of the best heist scenes ever committed to film.



While Beverly Hills Cop II might have been lesser to the first film, there's no denying that the sadly-departed Tony Scott directed it with his trademark style and panache. The opening scene sees Brigittie Nielsen, dressed like a catwalk model, take over a high-end jewellery in Beverly Hills. Scott's editing, mixed together with a minimalist synth beat, just adds to the clockwork rhythm of the scene.


8. THE TOWN - The Nuns

Ben Affleck's punchy, breakneck editing pushes The Town from something that could have been a direct-to-DVD snoozefest into a worthy addition to the heist thriller canon. The standout sequence is, by far, the heist scene which sees Affleck and his crew assault an armoured truck, dressed as nuns. While it does take share some common DNA with Heat's armoured truck scene, there's a much more unvarnished, grungy feel to this.


7. POINT BREAK - The final heist

When you watch back Point Break, what's clear is that Kathryn Bigelow's use of time as a mechanic is what makes the heist scenes work. It's something that's repeated over and over again by Keanu Reeves' character; that they never go for the vault, that they're in and out within a specific timeframe and that it's done with a minimal amount of violence. This, in turn, makes the final heist all the more terrifying because Swayze's character goes against every rule that's been hammered down - up until that point. The result is a chaotic, loud and violent scene of what happens when the heist doesn't go to plan - something that Tarantino executed even more skilfully in Reservoir Dogs.


6. THE DARK KNIGHT - The opening heist

To Christoper Nolan's credit, he's been more than open about the fact that The Dark Knight owes a lot of its success to Michael Mann's Heat. Whatever about how the multiple strands coalescing together, there's also how the heist scene at the start is laid out like the armoured car scene from Heat - not to mention the inclusion of William Fichtner, too.


5. RESERVOIR DOGS - "I blasted my way outta there..."

For a film that's set in the aftermath of a heist, it's interesting that you never see it go down - the closest, in fact, you get to seeing it is this scene with Steve Buscemi. In a lot of ways, it tells so much more about the way it went down than actually showing it; because we see the sheer, unbridled chaos of it all. Buscemi's character barreling down the street, three cops in pursuit - all done with sharp editing and smart sound design.


4. THE KILLING - The racetrack heist

One of Stanley Kubrick's early films and his last to be made in the US, The Killing was based on a hard-boiled novel about a heist on a racetrack that Kubrick laid out with his trademark attention to detail. Meticulous and exacting, The Killing shows how all the planning in the world doesn't really do all that much when faced with the realities of life. The key scene, in which Sterling Hayden breaks into the racetrack bank itself, moves quickly and without any fuss - and Hayden's clown mask adds an other-earthliness to that makes it all the more thrilling.

3. OUT OF SIGHT - "First time being robbed?"

Steven Soderbergh is no stranger to heist movies, having directed Ocean's Eleven and, most recently, Logan Lucky. With Out Of Sight, and this scene in particular, he made it all look so deceptively easy. George Clooney's easy charm and natural warmth plays out brilliantly here and, for a split second, you'd actually forget that this is him holding up a bank with nothing more than a smile and an unwitting partner. 

2. GUN CRAZY - Outside the bank

All done in one, single shot, the heist in Gun Crazy shows just how much of an influence the film had on crime thrillers after it. There's no music, the dialogue was improvised by the cast in the car, and there's usually on a shot of violence before it all kicks off. The lack of cutaways in the scene means that it's all done in real time, and you get that sense of fear and tension from Peggy Cummins' performance, as she tries to distract the policeman.


1. HEAT - The bank heist

Michael Mann's films are often described as almost having a documentary feel to them, such is the level of detail and realism that goes on. With Heat, it was no exception. Val Kilmer's reloading in the shootout after the heist is now shown to US Marines as an example of how to do a tactical reload. Robert DeNiro walking across the bank-teller's stations was inspired by John Dillinger. The echoes of the bullets wasn't added in post, as Mann insisted they use loud blanks to mimic the sound of real bullets. All that, mixed together with Brian Eno's thumping soundtrack, sharp camera-work and a calm, confident directing style, makes for the greatest heist scene in movie history. Take twelve minutes out and watch.