For our second weekly look at great moments/characters/scenes in film, we’re going to be re-living the greatest bank robbery scenes in movie history. In real life very, very few of us would consider doing one, but seeing characters on-screen living that out for us is one of those great escapist fantasies that cinema can deliver better than any other medium. Not that, as you’ll see below, everything always goes according to plan…
As I started to think about this feature, it dawned on me there’s a world of difference between a robbery scene, and a robbery movie. There are great films (such as, for example, Dog Day Afternoon or Inside Man) that spend their entire run-time detailing the events of their central bank job, but because the heist is drawn out over the whole movie, they don’t have a single stand-out scene.
So, while it may seem like splitting hairs, these movies will have to wait for another day and another award. What we’re looking at today is about amazing individual scenes depicting a bank robbery (heists of a different flavour – diamonds, casinos, post offices, etc. – don’t count; it’s gotta be a bank).
So pull on your (metaphorical) ski mask and fill your swag bag on these beauties.
And the nominees are…
The Dark Knight (2008)
Building on the grounded, non-fantastical superhero origins of ‘Batman Begins’, the middle film of Christopher Nolan’s iconic Dark Knight trilogy pins its sleek, cop-thriller tone to the mast from its opening moments, using the action of this bank heist to introduce us to iconic antagonist The Joker (Heath Ledger’s brilliant, Oscar-winning turn), whose presence, philosophy and methods we see here, and which went such a long way to making ‘The Dark Knight’ one of the defining, most loved, films of the Noughties.
Warning: This clip contains moderate violence
This three-hour magnum opus is a meticulously-constructed cat-and-mouse thriller of the very highest order. This scene – arguably the highlight of one of the best ever films of its kind – proves that committing a crime is sometimes the easy part; it’s getting away with it that’s hard. Robert De Niro’s crew of professional thieves have everything under control, nothing having been left to chance, and all is going according to plan, until…
What follows may well appear on another list of nominees someday, if we ever do Best Shoot-Outs. Michael Mann’s directorial greatness has never been better showcased than in this thrillingly visceral and authentic sequence.
Warning: This clip contains strong language and violence
Out of Sight (1998)
Gorgeous George Clooney has never been more charismatic than in Steven Soderbergh’s 1998 slick, sizzling caper. This scene epitomises the essential cool of the whole enterprise (which proved something of a dry run for the director and star’s next collaboration, 2001’s Ocean’s Eleven), as Clooney’s career criminal Jack Foley robs a bank with little more than his velvet voice and charming smile. Actually, scratch that – he robs the bank with only his velvet voice and charming smile. Oh George, whatever you say [sigh]…
The Town (2010)
The pleasure of this early scene from Ben Affleck’s second directorial outing (his next movie, ‘Argo’, would hit Oscar paydirt two years later) is in observing the details of the job, and the effect on ordinary people in such a high-pressure situation. Destroying the CCTV footage, relieving the customers of their phones and, most nail-bitingly, the shaking hands of poor bank teller Rebecca Hall as she attempts to open the safe; this crew are a well-drilled bunch, and even know when to be nice to someone in order to get the job done.
Warning: this clip contains strong language and violence
And the winner is…
With a convincing 75% of the vote, we proudly announce that the Best Bank Robbery Scene in movie history belongs to:
Thanks to all those who voted! Look out for next week’s poll on Sunday!!!