It’s no exaggeration to say that most people would want to get rich quickly without working too hard. Perhaps that’s why the best heist movies have been capturing the hearts of viewers ever since the ’50s. However, with so many heist movies out there, it can be hard to pick what to watch next. After all, sifting through dozens of movies can be exhausting, especially if you want to find something worth watching. If that sounds like you, then you’ve come to the right place. Here’s our pick of the best heist movies you can watch on Amazon Prime Video in 2021.
Best Heist Movies on Amazon Prime Video
1. Dead Presidents (1995)
Despite being released in 1995, Dead Presidents remains one of the best heist movies you can watch today. The movie is set in the aftermath of the Vietnam war, when families were still recovering from the devastation. It follows the life and story of a Vietnam vet who has just come back to his Bronx home.
However, despite having all the comforts of your homeland, returning to a broken economy isn’t easy. With our lead, Anthony Curtis struggling to survive, he decides to turn to robbery instead. He then forms a team with some friends to perform a heist on an armored car. However, in an unexpected turn of events, things don’t go according to plan.
The movie might seem like a regular heist film from the outside. However, it highlights the tragedy and repercussions of war — and a country that’s more self-serving than selfless. Thus, it’s one of the best heist movies around if you’re looking for something with a bit more depth.
2. Dog Day Afternoon (1975)
Many modern-day heist films and shows are certainly great to watch. However, it’s always good to recommend some of the classics that became foundational for the best heist movies. One of which is Dog Day Afternoon, a real-life story that portrays a tragic tale of desperation.
Unfortunately, if you’re looking for a glamorous heist film, you’re better off looking elsewhere. That’s because this film doesn’t portray an elaborate successful heist. Instead, the plan goes haywire, and things go south for our protagonist and his plans. He then has to manage the predicament of being trapped in the bank along with those trapped with him.
The film manages to capture the great desperation a man can hold. Moreover, it also masterfully portrays the media circus, the frenzied community, and police response at the time. If you’re willing to leave behind all the glamor, this is one of the best heist movies you’ll ever watch.
3. Heat (1995)
If you’re willing to spend three hours on a movie, then Heat comes up as one of our top recommendations. It’s one of the best heist movies you can find on Amazon Prime despite being released in the mid-90s. That’s because it doesn’t simply show off a regular heist job conducted by highly skilled criminals. Instead, it zooms in on the criminal underworld, following one of the best thieves in the business.
Neil McCauley (Robert DeNiro), a high-quality thief, finds himself unable to shake off Lieutenant Vincent Harris (Al Pacino). The lieutenant is committed to his job — obsessively so — to the point that his personal life diminishes. On the other hand, our thieving protagonist finds himself dealing with love issues in all the chaos. However, the film reaches a pivotal point when the two meet by chance at a coffee shop.
The film was directed by Michael Mann and is famous for its outstanding cinematography and acting. Both Robert DeNiro and Al Pacino put on a great show — and some of the best action sequences — on screen. All of these things make Heat undoubtedly one of the best heist movies of all time.
4. Hell or High Water (2016)
Despite it being lesser-known, Hell or High Water is one of the best heist movies in recent history. It follows the story of two brothers who have starkly different worldviews. After being separated for years, they come together once again to save their family ranch from foreclosure.
Despite their differences, the two team up for not just one bank robbery but a whole series of them. Of course, things aren’t always as smooth, and they eventually have to shake off a nearly retired Texas sheriff. The movie has everything you’d want in a heist film: tense car chases, shoot-outs, and even heartwarming and thought-provoking conversations. Whether you want a classic, high-tension bank robber film or something deeper, you’re sure to love Hell Or High Water.
5. Inside Man (2006)
The best heist movies don’t always follow the tried-and-true formula of an elaborate scheme to rob the world’s biggest banks. In fact, some of the best heist movies to date are entertaining, not exactly for the heist themselves. Inside Man is one such film, and director Spike Lee has proven that heist film entertainment has room for flexibility.
The story centers around a 24-hour heist on Wall Street led by Dalton Russell (Clive Owen) and his gang. Of course, what’s a heist without a compelling police force on the trail? In this case, Detective Keith Frazier (played by Denzel Washington), an NYPD hostage negotiator.
The whole ordeal and the heist are thrilling enough. However, the drama that unfolds due to the heist is where things get good — and a little mysterious. Moreover, things become even stranger when detective Keith seems to find that no heist took place. If you’re up for a heist film with a little bit of mystery, then you should certainly check it out.
6. The Italian Job (2003)
With its star-studded cast and an iconic Mini Cooper car chase, The Italian Job easily makes the cut. It’s one of the best heist movies around with a full cast of characters and all the bells and whistles. Sure, it’s an unfaithful remake of an older film, but it hits just the right notes to get you excited.
The movie is about a gang of robbers who steal $30 million worth of solid gold. However, one member double-crosses the team to keep all of the rewards for himself. Unfortunately, to the traitor’s dismay, the gang survives his little ploy and is out for revenge. Granted, the film’s not as deep as the others on this list. However, if you’re looking for something fast-paced, fun, and not too heavy, The Italian Job fits the bill just right.
7. The Killing (1956)
The Killing, one of the best heist movies ever made, wasn’t just created in the last decade or two. It dates way back to the 1950s and still stands the test of time even in the 21st century. The film is a must-watch for anyone fan of heist films and wants to watch the classics.
Unlike most other heist movies, Stanley Kubrick sets his characters to rob a racetrack instead of a bank. Hayden, the main character and veteran thief who just got out of jail, decides to do one last job. Like most other large heist operations, he enlists the help of a few talented (and corrupt) individuals to do it. With his seemingly perfect plan and crew, he sets his plan in motion, and things seem to go well. However, things start to get messy when someone unexpectedly betrays them.
8. Logan Lucky (2017)
Despite its recent release, many people consider Logan Lucky one of the best heist movies to exist. That’s understandable, considering how much Steven Soderbergh put into the film.
The movie follows Jimmy Logan (Channing Tatum), an unfortunately divorced laborer out of a job. Unfortunately, running out of money puts his relationship with his daughter at risk. Unable to sit still and do nothing, Jimmy decides to rob the Coca-Cola 600 race.
However, he can’t do it alone, so he enlists the help of willing participants. These are his brother Clyde (Adam Driver), a redneck safe-cracking expert named Joe Bang (Daniel Craig), and others. Together, they pull off one of the least glamorous — but incredibly entertaining — heists in modern film. It’s certainly one of the best robbery movies you can watch for a fun movie night with friends.
9. Ocean’s Eleven (2001)
Ocean Eleven is so iconic in the realm of heist films that it needs no introduction. After all, it’s widely regarded as one of the best heist movies of all time. In fact, some even argue that it stands as one of the top movies of all time, period. However, regardless of which hall of fame you place it in, it’s certainly one of the best heist movies available.
The story features a star-studded cast, including George Clooney, Julia Roberts, Matt Damon, and Brad Pitt. However, this all-star team of actors isn’t the highlight of the film. It’s the story and execution that truly make it shine. The charismatic characters and elaborate heist plan, complete with acrobatics and EMPs, make it breathtakingly beautiful. Not to mention the plot twist in the middle is so iconic it’s been referenced several times over.
If you’ve never watched heist films before, Ocean’s Eleven is a great starting point. However, you might find some other heist films lacking after watching this. Regardless, it’s a must-watch for every kind of movie lover.
10. The Old Man and the Gun (2017)
One of the best heist movies released in 2017 is undoubtedly The Old Man and the Gun. Sure, it’s a pretty standard heist movie, all things considered. However, as it’s the last Robert Redford movie that will ever come out, it has a special place in the hearts of many.
The movie, created as a tribute to the 60s, features Forrest Tucker, an old man with a gun. Despite being in his 70s, he can’t seem to give up his love of bank robbery. The film is certainly unique in that it’s rare to see someone so old conduct a series of heists. However, it also feels like a classic heist movie, complete with a love interest and a detective on his tail. It’s one of the best heist movies on Amazon Prime Video that you should certainly check out on your next binge.
11. Reservoir Dogs (1992)
Quentin Tarantino may be well-known in the modern-day. However, fans who like to dig deeper might want to watch the movie that launched him to stardom: Reservoir Dogs. Despite being released in 1992, Reservoir Dogs remains one of the best heist movies to date.
The film follows a group of men, whose identities are disguised through pseudonyms, investigating a robbery that went haywire. As they inspect what happened, they come to a devastating conclusion: someone in their group is a traitor. What follows is a series of investigations that does whatever it takes to track down the rat, even if it means torture.
Even if you’re not a fan of heist films, we’re sure you won’t fall asleep during Reservoir Dogs. Its unconventional filming style (Tarantino later adopts in other films like Pulp Fiction) is truly intriguing. Moreover, the movie itself is also entertaining, despite its age.
12. The Sting (1973)
Best picture winners like The Sting have always been popular — and for a good reason. Watching the movie now leaves a strong impression, even if it was released back in the 70s. The story follows John Hooker (Robert Redford), a conman and serial gambler searching for a new partner in crime.
After enlisting his new partner Henry Gondorff (Paul Newman), Hooker plans to ruin an enemy gangster in motion. As you might expect, this entails an elaborate scheme full of twists and unexpected turns every which way. It’s sure to be an enjoyable experience, enough to forgive the old cinematography and graphics.
13. The Town (2010)
One of the best heist movies of the 2010s was none other than The Town. Despite what the nun-fit trailer might give off as a first impression, this film isn’t a horror movie. However, it is one of the more serious money heist movies on this list. Nonetheless, it’s still an excellent movie overall and is one of the best crime movies you can watch.
The movie follows Doug MacRay (Ben Affleck), the leader of his crew of thieves. Despite the time they’ve spent together, Doug has no real sentiments for any one of his crew members. That is except for James, a brother-like existence which one day brings a hostage named Claire Keesey. Unfortunately, with Claire’s introduction and an unexpected love affair, Doug finds all of his previous plans turned over.
What Makes a Good Heist Movie?
If you haven’t been living under a rock, then you probably know what a heist movie already is. Everything from creating elaborate schemes to hiring a getaway driver for the aftermath is all trademarks of most heist movies. However, it’s not exactly easy to tell what truly makes a good heist movie stand out. What separates the mundane, ordinary heists from the rest? Here are just some elements you can watch out for to tell if it’s a good heist film.
Heist films are fun to watch because the plans are usually so intricate and elaborate. However, while watching how things play out is fun, it can feel boring when everything goes perfectly well. After all, conflict is the key to creating good stories, right? That’s why having complications to any plan makes a heist film more interesting and separates it from the mundane. It’s truly the heart of the genre and, without it, films can feel dull and unrealistic.
Most of the best heist movies in existence have a team — and it’s that teamwork that makes things compelling. Watching it come together, seeing how individuals contribute, and relating to multiple characters make it feel more alive. Of course, it’s even more interesting when the team includes a diverse set of personalities from all walks of life. Moreover, the relationships between them also create an opportunity for a juicy point of interest.
One of the biggest draws of heist films is undoubtedly the elaborate plans. In fact, some might argue it’s the most fun element in a heist film. Watching the cleverness of a plan and having it unfold before the your eyes is incredibly satisfying. Moreover, if you can raise the stakes of why the plan shouldn’t fail, then everything feels tense and gratifying.
Beyond the Money
Heists themselves may be fun to watch for a time. However, the formula can quickly get old, especially if you only focus on the matter at hand. After all, people can only relate to characters who are more than just about materialism.
That’s why some of the best heist movies come with a purpose beyond the money. Perhaps it’s about salvaging a relationship or exploring the hardships of poverty. Regardless, if it’s compelling and relatable enough, then people will care more about the film beyond the glamor.
Of course, having something or someone to root for is one of the essential aspects of a story. After all, nobody will like the film if they can’t care about its characters and the reason behind their actions. Most of us would probably agree that stealing is a bad thing. However, it’s much easier to root for the character’s actions if you can create a good reason behind them.
The Filming and Delivery
Lastly, while story-telling, plot, and characters are the film’s backbone, it never hurts to film it well. That’s why the musical score, directing, and delivery all matter. Even if you had all the other ingredients intact, screwing up the delivery might make or break the film.
The best heist movies come in all shapes and forms. Some are more elaborate, focusing on the heist itself. On the other hand, some focus more on the characters and the reason behind the heist. Regardless, there are tons of heist movies out there for all kinds of movie lovers.