Blu-ray Review: Heist (2015)

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The latest movie to boast the rather generic title Heist was initially graced by a more interesting title: Bus 357. Not that the title means much in this case, as the primary reason the film might find an audience is the presence of Robert De Niro. The days of De Niro's name being an indicator of quality are so long in the past, younger viewers can be forgiven for assuming the exact opposite. As a recovering De Niro junkie myself, I had to give Heist a spin (new to Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital HD from Lionsgate). The original title references a hijacked vehicle that factors prominently in the heist promised by the film's actual title. It's kind of like Speed (and may make you wish you were actually watching that superior action flick).

Though De Niro receives a fair amount of screen time as mob boss Francis "The Pope" Silva, the real star is Jeffrey Dean Morgan as a former employee-turned-adversary of Silva's, Luke Vaughn. Luke has a sick daughter and is enraged to discover zero sympathy from his boss when he asks for a cash advance. Jeffrey Dean Morgan, soon to be seen in the upcoming season of The Walking Dead, is a strong character actor and he manages to make the gruff Luke likeable as he pulls a heist against Silva in order to obtain money for his daughter's treatment. But De Niro is sleepwalking here, phoning in one of his patented "tough guy" performances.

As directed by Scott Mann, a filmmaker with one previous feature to his credit (the obscure The Tournament from 2009), Heist is watchable if all you're looking for is a time-passer. It's all over in just about 90 minutes, with very little of that time devoted to third-billed Kate Bosworth. She turns up briefly in a pointless cameo as Silva's daughter Sydney. The real female lead is Gina Carano, pluckily effective as Officer Krizia "Kris" Bajos, a cop who becomes embroiled in Luke's heist. 
Heist BD (299x380).jpg Lionsgate's Blu-ray presentation is, from a visual standpoint, passable. I'm not sure if the transfer is too dark, resulting in somewhat ill-defined detail and black crush, or if Brandon Cox's cinematography just has an intentionally under-lighted appearance. Either way, it's not the most attractive movie to look at. The DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack certainly gets the job done, though it's not especially noteworthy in any way. It sounds like every other modestly budgeted, direct-to-video action thriller.

There's a surprisingly healthy amount of special features on Lionsgate's Heist Blu-ray (which comes with a Digital HD download). There's director's commentary, deleted scenes (four minutes), an EPK 'making of' (15 minutes), and a selection of cast and crew interviews (about 37 minutes, total).

If you're like me and find it hard to resist checking out anything with Robert De Niro, hoping for a glimmer of greatness in an actor who has spread himself too thin for far too long, I can't blame you for watching Heist. That said, David Mamet's Heist (2001) is a better way to spend your time, if we're being blatantly honest here.

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Chaz Lipp writes for The Morton Report.

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