***.7 GM
Starring: Gene Hackman, Delroy Lindo, Danny DeVito, Sam Rockwell, Rebecca Pidgeon, Ricky Jay


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This is what The Score should have been.

For those who don't recall that little underwhelming nugget of cinema, it was released in the summer of 2001 and featured Robert DeNiro, Marlon Brando, Edward Norton and Angela Bassett and it was about a heist. It wasn't very good, despite its cast. "Heist," however, manages to be really good, despite the traditional Mamet inclusion of his wife, the always less-than-stellar Rebecca Pidgeon.

Hackman, Lindo, Jay and Pidgeon are a smooth team of heisters that pull off a big job only to be stiffed by their boss DeVito until they pull another job with his fuckwit relative Rockwell along for the ride, which will only screw up their well-oiled machine. So they proceed to pull dirty shenanigan after dirty shenanigan to try and weasel their way out of the situation with some booty to boot.

David Mamet's dialog is always pretty well put together, and in this case it isn't as distractingly distinctive as it's been known to be from time to time. There are so many oddball one-liners in this film that I may have to see it again just to catch them all. Things like "Motherfucker's so cool when he goes to sleep, sheep count him." That only barely makes sense, but it's brilliant.

Hackman is always one step ahead of everybody and it's a joy to watch such a thing when the steps aren't always clearly visible, as they usually were in "The Score." I could have used a little more Lindo, but I could always use a little more Lindo. Ricky Jay is pretty smooth as well, and DeVito's doing his nasty DeVito thing all the way, which is even more fun when he's got so much interesting stuff to say. Pidgeon is Pidgeon, and as usual, she seems like the only person in the film that doesn't really know how to deliver the lines, but in this case, she's a femme marginale, so you can write off any oddness to her being 'mysterious' or something and pretend she doesn't suck.

This has all the elements of a great heist flick, which makes it safe to call it "Heist." A great touch is the fact that, like some parts of "The Score," a lot of the actual heisting has no dramatic musical accompaniment to force you to feel suspense. It's not obnoxiously high dramatic tension and pulse pounding action, but rather it's the dialog and character interaction that set it apart, as well as the layers of deception and double-dealing that keep it involving. And it's as cute as a Chinese baby.

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