Many heist movies are known for their unrealistic or fantastical elements. They’re still great films – in the main – but that doesn’t mean that we can’t roll our eyes and think “even that is a bit far-fetched for me!”
Here we run through 5 movies that whilst entertaining, stretch the realms of plausibility to the limit.
1. Ocean’s Eleven
Ocean’s Eleven is perhaps one of the all-time great heist movies, released in 2001, starring George Clooney, Brad Pitt, and Matt Damon. The movie follows a group of skilled thieves as they plan and execute a complex heist of three Las Vegas casinos owned by a powerful businessman.
Unsurprisingly, Ocean’s Eleven is a big favourite with viewers who love casinos and betting. It’s a classic heist movie filled with high stakes action, clever twists, and lots of gambling scenes. If you love casinos and betting you can relate to the characters in the movie, especially if you spend your time trying to understand poker odds so you can win big at a famous casino like the ones in the movie or online. Whether you’re a seasoned gambler or just starting out, you’re sure to find something to enjoy in this classic movie.
Although incredibly successful at the box office, the movie is known for its creative and implausible plot, which is one of the reasons why it is considered unrealistic.
For example, the heist involves digging a tunnel beneath one of the casinos – not possible in a city populated 24 hours a day 365 days a year with millions of tourists. The casino in question, the Bellagio Casino, is a popular destination for both tourists and professional gamblers, and the casino floor is filled with a variety of games and hundreds of people at anyone time. The team also creates a fake replica of the Bellagio hotel and uses advanced technology to manipulate the security systems of the casinos.
These elements are highly unlikely to be successful in real life, making the movie unrealistic when compared to actual heists, which in most cases just involve low-level criminals and a weapon, and usually end in failure!
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Inception is a science fiction movie released in 2010, directed by Christopher Nolan and starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Ellen Page. The movie follows a team of thieves who use advanced technology and dream manipulation to steal information from the subconscious mind of a corporate executive. The movie includes a scene in which the main characters carry out a heist in the subconscious mind of their target.
The heist scene in Inception is not considered realistic for several, blindingly obvious reasons. First and foremost, the concept of dream manipulation and the technology used in the movie to enter and manipulate dreams are not based on reality. 99% of people couldn’t even imagine it being possible in a fictional film.
It’s so complex and unrealistic many people don’t even to this day understand how it worked. Additionally, the heist itself involves several implausible elements, such as the use of a “kick” to quickly and abruptly wake up from the dream, and the existence of dream agents who act as guards in the subconscious mind.
Just thinking about it makes your brain hurt.
3. The Italian Job
The Italian Job, a heist movie released in 1969, directed by Peter Collinson and starring Michael Caine, Noel Coward, and Benny Hill, follows a group of thieves who use a complex series of stunts and gadgets to pull off a massive gold heist in Venice, Italy. The heist involves using a fleet of Mini Cooper cars to navigate through the tight streets of Venice and evade the police, ultimately succeeding in stealing the gold and making their escape.
There are several problems with this. First and foremost, the use of Mini Cooper cars in the heist is implausible to be successful in real life. More than likely you’d end up totalling the car and probably causing yourself serious harm, not to mention the damage to the cars!
Additionally, the criminals use a complex series of gadgets and devices to navigate through the streets of Venice and evade the police. Back in those days, you’d be reliant on a handheld map that would make driving at speed in tight European backstreets even more difficult. The scene blows the bloody doors of realistic possibility you could say.
4. The Thomas Crown Affair
The Thomas Crown Affair is a heist movie released in 1968, directed by Norman Jewison and starring Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway. Rated 7/10 on IMDb, the movie follows a wealthy businessman, Thomas Crown (played by Steve McQueen), who carries out a daring heist of a priceless painting from a museum. The heist involves Crown using his knowledge and resources to carefully plan and execute the theft, ultimately succeeding in stealing the painting.
Like the other films on this list, the heist is considered unrealistic. First and foremost, it depicts the heist as a carefully planned and executed operation, but the plan itself is highly implausible and involves Crown using his knowledge and resources to create a fake copy of the painting and swap it with the real one, and then using a series of unlikely coincidences and plot twists to evade detection and escape with the painting.
In one scene he can be seen folding a priceless Monet in half to fit in a briefcase, and then later takes it out without so much of a scratch. Also unrealistic is the fact he manages to pull four people at random together, none of whom know each other, and pull off a sophisticated bank robbery.
5. The Dark Knight
The Dark Knight, released in 2008, directed by Christopher Nolan and starring Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, and Aaron Eckhart, features several heists, but the most prominent one is the Joker’s plan to steal money from the Gotham City Bank. The heist involves the Joker using a team of criminals and explosives to blow open the bank’s vault and steal the money, ultimately succeeding in his plan.
The heist involves the Joker using explosives to blow open the bank’s vault, which is highly unlikely to be successful in real life. It just doesn’t happen. He turns out to have arranged a sequence of double-crosses, which means that all of his accomplices end up killing each other, and somewhat miraculously by the time the heist is completed he is the only one still alive. Not a bad way to ensure you get all of the $68m of stolen bills is it?
No matter how outrageous or exaggerated, these heists remain some of the most captivating and memorable moments in cinematic history. From elaborate plans to nail-biting car chases, these movies certainly push the boundaries of what is believable — but that’s why we love them.