Joe (Gene Hackman), Pinky (Ricky Jay), Bobby (Delroy Lindo) and Joe's wife, Fran (Rebecca Pidgeon) plan and execute the perfect jewel robbery. Perfect that is until Joe realises that he has been caught on camera without his mask. But this could be seen as a blessing in disguise as he and his wife have long-planned to leave all this behind them and head off into the sunset on their yacht, and with the money from this one last haul they can do exactly that. That is, until their fence, the despicable Bergman (Danny DeVito) refuses to hand over their hard earned cash until they pull off just one more last job. And just for 'insurance' he wants his young nephew Jimmy (Sam Rockwell) to tag along for the ride.
This new addition to the finely balanced crew upsets the balance and soon complications, bluffs, double bluffs and plenty of witty one-liners ("Everybody needs money - that's why it's called money") follow in the fun romp through this predictable set-up.
The core of the film lies in the relationships between their makeshift 'family' of thieves and how the new addition of this cocky young stud rocks the boat (literally). The two extensive heist sequences are cleverly and efficiently executed, the second as an almost entirely Hitchcockian eight-minute silent sequence.
Where the film loses points is on the action - just not one of Mamet's strong points. This is a film of many finales and one of these is a shoot out on the docks (think old black and white B-movies rather than The Usual Suspects). It just doesn't work - these were gentleman thieves more Lavender Hill Mob (complete with melting down the stolen gold bars) than Reservoir Dogs and the shootout just doesn't quite work. But, don't worry, that ending wasn't really 'the end', there are at least two more showdowns!
Despite this small niggle, Heist, as with many of Mamet's films, has a great cast and a superbly crafted and witty screenplay (which kept me guessing to the end) let down by pedestrian directing and occasionally one-dimensional performances. I only ever see Rebecca Pidgeon (alias Mrs Mamet) in her hubby's films and she gets better with each film, as here she smoulders seductively along with many a classic femme fatale to keep me wondering into whose arms she would finally fall.