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7 Movies like Heat: High Stakes Heists

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Michael Taylor itcher‘Heat’ is a high-octane thriller about a career criminal pulling “one last job” before trying to go straight. If you’re look for other suspenseful films about safecrackers and bank robbers, you’ll love ‘Thief’, ‘Charlie Varick’ and ‘The Getaway.’              ~ Michael Taylor

Get Your Temperature Rising

“Don’t let yourself get attached to anything you are not willing to walk out on in 30 seconds flat if you feel the heat around the corner.”- Robert DeNiro (as Neil McCauley) in ‘Heat’.

Director Michael Mann’s 1995 film ‘Heat’ is a classic bank heist thriller exploring the dualities shared by dogged criminal Neil McCauley (Robert DeNiro) and Vincent Hanna (Al Pacino), the obsessive police lieutenant determined to stop him. It also features one of the most iconic cops and robbers’ shootouts in cinema history.

So if you’re looking for other movies like ‘Heat’ to get your temperature rising, let’s look at some of the best.


Movies Similar to ‘Heat’…

‘Thief’ (Michael Mann, 1981)

Mann’s directorial debut tackles Frank (James Caan), another criminal intent on doing one more score before devoting his life to starting a family.  But the jewel thief’s hopes are dashed after being double-crossed by a ruthless mob boss, setting up a brutal endgame.

Similarity Match: 95%
‘Thief’ shares Mann’s slick visual style and his fondness for electronic soundtracks, but is a more intimate film.

‘The Getaway’ (Sam Peckinpah, 1972)

This crime classic stars action icon Steve McQueen as Doc McCoy, a paroled Texas ex-con roped into a bank robbery by the corrupt businessman who secured his early release. But when Doc is betrayed after a bloody shootout, he takes off for the Mexican border with his wife Carol (Ali McGraw), pursued by police and criminals alike in a mad dash to the finish line.

Similarity Match: 90%
Mann was clearly inspired by Peckinpah’s stylistic violence, and ‘The Getaway’ is punctuated by intense action scenes and white knuckle car chases.

‘Reservoir Dogs’ (Quentin Tarantino, 1992)

Tarantino’s cinematic debut shares all the trademarks that would define his later work: a non-linear narrative, pop-culture references, and characters who speak in poetically profane monologues.

The plot recounts a heist by six men, going by aliases including “Mr. Pink” (Steve Buscemi), “Mr. White” (Harvey Keitel), and the infamously sadistic “Mr. Blonde” (Michael Madsen.) When the job doesn’t go according to plan, loyalties are betrayed at a violent price.

Similarity Match: 80%
Unlike McCauley in ‘Heat’, the men in ‘Reservoir Dogs’ have no delusions of leaving their criminal past behind, and the dark comedic tone lies in stark contrast to Mann’s super-serious neo-noir.

‘Charley Varrick’ (Don Siegel, 1973)

Walter Matthau plays Varrick, a wisecracking down-on-his-luck character looking to make easy cash with a bank robbery. But things go haywire after he realizes he stole mob money, and must think fast in order to outsmart his enemies, which include a sadistic hit man named Molly (Joe Don Baker).

Similarity Match: 75%
Siegel’s direction isn’t as flashy as Mann’s, making for an engaging humorous thriller that would inspire the aforementioned Tarantino.


If You Like ‘Heat’, You Will Like…

Now that we’ve covered conventional heist films like ‘Heat’, let’s look at three very interesting variations on the genre.

‘Inception’ (Christopher Nolan, 2010)

Director Christopher Nolan fused the heist thriller with science fiction in ‘Inception.’ A group of thieves led by Dom Cob (Leonardo DiCaprio) perform corporate espionage by extracting information through their victim’s dreams, but always remain in danger of entering limbo if they perish while sharing the same dreams as their target.

Visually stunning and featuring a stirring score by Hans Zimmer, ‘Inception’ offers spectacle with an intricate head-scratching plot with an ambiguous finale.

‘Straight Time’ (Ulu Grossbard, 1978)

Dustin Hoffman plays Max Dembo, a recently paroled thief mercilessly prodded by his cruel probation officer Earl (M. Emmett Walsh) who feels he’ll never change his criminal behavior.

Feeling disillusioned by Earl’s demeaning treatment, Max goes back to his old ways, leading into a tense jewelry store heist and an uncertain future.

‘Straight Time’ offers a rich character study of a convict’s re-entrance into a free society, and all the pressure and pitfalls that come with that responsibility.

‘Dog Day Afternoon’ (Sidney Lumet, 1975)

Based on a true story, ‘Dog Day Afternoon’ deals with Sonny (‘Heat’s’ Al Pacino) and Sal (John Cazale), two bumbling misguided bank robbers whose incompetence leads to an intense police standoff in Brooklyn, New York.  Sonny needs the money for his lover’s gender-reassignment surgery, with his emotional duress striking a chord between comedic and tragic.

‘Dog Day Afternoon’ is less concerned with heist genre conventions than social commentary and a character driven storyline.


“Give Me All You Got!”

Deep breath, I’m not after your cash, but now it’s time to hear from you! You’ve seen my picks for great heist movies like ‘Heat’, so what would you add to the list?

Crack open your movie collection safe and tell me in the comments.

You might also be interested in checking out my list of Stylish Revenge Thrillers Like ‘John Wick’ and Home Invasion Thrillers Like ‘You’re Next.’

My name is Michael Taylor and I′m your go-to source for finding the best in Alternative rock in all its various genres, such as Goth, Grunge, Post-punk, Shoegaze, Britpop and Electronica, with some metal thrown in for good measure. Film-wise, I′m all about sci-fi and horror, comic book movies, and cult classics. I love checking out all the best concerts and film events in my hometown of Austin, TX. I′ve written for sites such as Cracked, and I cover all my various pop culture obsessions on my site
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