Film

De Niro, Carano, and Bautista Headline Modest but Strong Hostage Drama ‘Heist’

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Since most of the exceptional hostage drama Heist takes place inside a cramped bus, your enjoyment depends on how much you relish the company of B-list actors who are very good at flaring their nostrils and immodestly threatening one another. Even American Gladiator/Haywire star Gina Carano gets plenty of time to puff out her chest when she, as Officer Kris, negotiates with good-guy thief Vaughn (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) after he steals mob money from world-weary casino owner Pope (Robert De Niro) and takes a busload of bystanders hostage to make his getaway.

Carano and Morgan have the toughest roles, since Kris and Vaughn have to grit their teeth and wince self-seriously whenever tempers inevitably boil over. But they hold their own admirably against scene-stealers De Niro and pro wrestler/Guardians of the Galaxy star Dave Bautista, who plays Vaughn’s hotheaded partner, Cox.

Morgan’s lead performance is especially surprising: As Vaughn, a military-trained criminal with a heart of gold — he robs Pope to pay for his daughter’s surgery! — the actor’s barely suppressed hangdog sighs get more mileage here than all of his one-note post-Watchmen performances combined.

Director Scott Mann also puts De Niro to good use, wrapping Vaughn’s story up with a rapturous, narratively superfluous shot of De Niro tilting his head back and enjoying a cigarette. You’ve seen neo-noirs like this before, but you probably haven’t had this much fun with a modern B movie in a while.

Heist

Directed by Scott Mann

Lions Gate

Opens November 13, AMC Empire 25 

Available on demand

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