Not the 2001 Mamet thriller we're still waiting for on Blu-ray
Blending generic heist elements with a diluted Speed knock-off setting, Heist wastes a lot of decent actors on a tale which might have actually been halfway serviceable in the hands of better filmmakers.The story, which kick-starts in medias res, sees a group of masked gunmen commandeering a bus, taking the passengers hostage in the process. We find out that the men have chosen, for various different reasons, to rob millions from a mob-backed casino run by ageing crime boss Mr Pope, who is on the eve of retiring himself. With one of the robbers desperate to pay his dying daughter’s medical bills, but equally desperate not to see anybody get hurt, and Pope himself intent on preventing the police from recovering the stolen cash, lest it be traced back to a money laundering operation running out of his casino, the bus soon becomes a moving staging-ground for bloody conflict and betrayals, as cops and criminals desperately try to get on board to take out these robbers any way that they can.It’s hard to decide whether De Niro took this one for the money, or genuinely believed that the script had something more to offer. The same can arguably be said for Watchmen’s Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Guardians of the Galaxy’s Dave Bautista, as two of the armed robbers, or even Haywire’s Gina Carano as the cop on their tail. They all could do better than this, and with a few reasonable twists/tweaks to an otherwise generic heist thriller plot, it’s possible they expected the filmmakers to deliver more than the end result we see here. Unfortunately lacklustre shootouts and a second half which cannot help but be compared unfavourably to Speed leave this a largely ineffective affair that squanders the talent on offer and proves little more than mildly diverting DTV-level entertainment.
Picture QualityLionsgate’s UK Region B-locked Blu-ray release of Heist promotes the movie with a 1080p/AVC-encoded High Definition video presentation in its original aspect ratio of 2.39:1 widescreen. Right from the outset you know that you’re in for a messy ride, with stylistic choices, colour timing and outright poor camerawork leaving us with a video presentation which is amidst the most problematic I’ve encountered of late.
Although Lionsgate themselves appear largely devoid of blame, Heist still looks pretty shocking.
There are some shots that are inherently much better than others; detail actually appears to be strong, with clarity well-resolved, and a natural filmic texture which almost makes this look like it’s got a budget. Unfortunately the image is fatally flawed by what appears to be two key problems: firstly, the choice to make all night sequences in the whole damn film look a sickly yellow (robbing a surprising amount of background detail, the jaundiced style is terribly unforgiving, and not only sucks out the detail but also makes everything – and everybody – look a rather unhealthy yellow) and secondly the cinematographer’s seeming inability to pull objects into focus. On some shots it actually takes a tangible couple of seconds to pull characters into focus, which is appalling. Is there a plus side? Halfway through the piece, the film shifts to daylight, and fares far better, but that’s quite a long time to wait and, by then, the damage has been done.
Sound QualityThe accompanying DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is far less problematic.
Dialogue remains reasonably clear and coherent throughout – notwithstanding the mumbling speech of Jeffrey Dean Morgan in the first act – and takes precedence across the fronts and centre channels, whilst a strong albeit generic score thrums intensely throughout the piece, bringing LFE weight and decent surround backing, engaging even when the drama proves less than diverting.
Effects are surprisingly punchy, with gunshots thundering out and providing an engulfing atmospheric backdrop, in particular during the bus-staged second half. Sirens, growling engines, bikes and helicopters whip across the soundstage and there’s plenty of aural distraction on offer, leaving this a strong offering which may not be demo material but is far less flawed than the video.
ExtrasDisappointingly, none of the extras available on the US release – which included a Making-of, a series of cast and crew Interviews, some Deleted/Extended scenes and an Audio Commentary with the Director, the Writer and also star Jeffrey Dean Morgan – have made it to this side of the pond.
Blu-ray VerdictIn the hands of other filmmakers – and in another life – Heist could have maybe better combined its dual elements of The Town/Heat-like armed robbery with Speed-like hostages-on-a-bus thrills in such a way that drawing such comparisons wasn’t so insulting to the films it emulates. Unfortunately the end result here is remarkable only for the level of wasted talent on offer, and provides little more than a mild diversion in distinct DTV-level ranks.
Much of the problem is in the execution, both in terms of the film and this Blu-ray.
Here we get unforgivably bad video – largely, admittedly, as a result of stylistic choices and just plain bad cinematography – and decent audio, but a complete lack of the extra features that adorned the US counterpart. If there are fans out there who want to buy this; this is the wrong release for you. For anybody even slightly discerning, this is a slow night rental at best, although it’ll rock up on Netflix or Channel 5 in no time at all.
You can buy Heist on Blu-ray here
Our Review Ethos
To comment on what you've read here, click the Discussion tab and post a reply.