There are many thrilling aspects of a good bank robbery movie, from the police to the robbers and the fast getaways, plus the badass soundtracks that add to the excitement. What’s not to love?
Bank heist movies have held a special place in the hearts of the audience since the 1950s. They took them for a ride to stories about get-rich-quick schemes of sometimes incredibly intelligent, calculative minds of criminals trying to achieve their American Dream the dirty way.
If they are successful, they’ll find themselves living the rich life, surrounded by their stolen wealth and all the things money can buy. But, if they don’t get away with it, they have to face the wrath of the police and justice. In between, the audience is treated to a lot of suspense, thrill, and a heaping dose of action.
In the start, when robbery movies started becoming more popular, the plots were more simplistic. Usually, they focused on a central character, the anti-hero trying to make it big. As time progressed, the bank heist movie formula started to evolve.
In the 70s, the antagonist became a more sympathetic role, a down-on-his-luck con, attempting to correct the wrongs of his life and luck. When the 90s rolled in, the audience witnessed another transition in the formula. Now, the “one last big job” plot was centered on a soon-to-be-retired criminal trying to end his life of crime with a bang.
The modern bank robbery film plots have become more complex and more profound than ever. They involved backstories of characters such as failed marriages, struggling with careers, and dysfunctional relationships that lead to drastic and dangerous decisions. Some argue that bank heist films have cliched themes with plots that have been done to death. But several million people still love a good ol’ bank robbery flick.
So, why do we still love bank robbery movies? Our hunch is that it allows us to enjoy the thrill of a chase and the excitement of a dangerous gamble. These movies get our adrenaline pumping and keep us on the edge of our seats.
12 Best Bank Robbery Movies Of All Time
So, if you love bank heist movies as much as we do, here are the top 12 best heist movies of all time.
- Heat (1995)
- The Town (2010)
- Bonnie and Clyde (1967)
- Ocean’s Eleven (2001)
- Dog Day Afternoon (1975)
- The Killing (1956)
- A Fish Called Wanda (1988)
- The Getaway (1972)
- Point Break (1991)
- Inside Man (2006)
- Thief (1981)
- Heist (2001)
1. Heat (1995)
Watch Robert De Niro play a professional bank robber with Al Pacino hot on his tracks as a driven Los Angeles detective. Micheal Mann directed heat, and this is one of his best works. This bank heist film is one of the best made and is a fantastic watch. There are multiple memorable scenes, including one of the best police vs. criminals shootouts of all time.
Heat has a lot more than just a fantastic bank heist plot; it has an intricate storyline and captivating characters. It gives us a peek into the motivations of both the cops and the cons. Furthermore, the chase in this movie is highly satisfying. Both Pacino and De Niro have done a fantastic job as artists. Heat is one of the best robbery movies Netflix.
2. The Town (2010)
The Town is an Oscar-nominated heist movie directed by Ben Affleck. You may already know Affleck as a top-notch actor, and in The Town, he has also proven his directorial chops. Watch the two friends Doug McRay, played by Ben Affleck, and James Coughlin, played by Jeremy Renner, turn to a life of crime as they rob armored cars and banks in Charlestown broken. Rumor has it that this film has inspired many bank robbers worldwide.
Things take a turn for the worse for the gang when Doug’s new girlfriend Claire, played by Rebecca Hall, turns out to be a bank manager who James kidnaped at the start of the movie.
Affleck brings a lot of vulnerability and honesty to his portrayal of Doug – a criminal with a heart of gold. As the story progresses, we see him question his morality and life of crime, which he has blindly followed since a young age. Both Affleck and Renner keep the audience captivated.
Critics have appreciated the fast-paced, adrenaline-pumping plot of the movie. The Town is available on HBO Max.
3. Bonnie and Clyde (1967)
An iconic movie about the infamous bank-robbing duo of the American Midwest. Set in the Great Depression era, watch Faye Dunaway as seductive Bonnie and Warren Beatty as unscrupulous Clyde pull off some thrilling police chase sequences and bank robberies. Bonnie and Clyde’s movie was nominated for 10 Academy Awards, an astounding feat.
Bonnie and Clyde featured a solid supporting cast, including Estelle Parsons, Gene Hackman, and Michael J. Pollard, and was directed by none other than Arthur Penn. This movie is a treat to watch even today. Many couples look up to the dynamic between the two lovers as a true example of the ride-or-die relationship.
4. Ocean’s Eleven (2001)
A modern classic bank heist movie, Ocean’s Eleven set a standard for today’s bank robbery films. This movie is among the most popular movies of all time, and for good reason because it is a thrilling watch.
Ocean’s Eleven is a quick-witted high-paced movie with a cast of A-list actors such as George Clooney, Brad Pitt, and Matt Damon. This one has heaps of good looks, charm, and charisma to keep anyone captivated. Our group of handsome and exceptionally intelligent con-men hatches a plan to rob $160 million from a casino owner Terry Benedict played by Andy Garcia.
Directed by Steven Soderbergh, who is a legendary name in the heist movie category. He artfully converted the done-to-death narrative into an entertaining, contemporary, and sharp-heist movie that one can watch repeatedly. Ocean’s Eleven’s tremendous success birthed two successful sequels and a spinoff, which are now available on HBO Max.
5. Dog Day Afternoon (1975)
A riveting twist on a true story, Dog Day Afternoon is a story of a gay man, who is not the brightest of criminals, attempting to rob a bank in New Your. His reason: was to pay for sex-change surgery for his gay lover so he could turn into a woman.
The dim-witted couple played by Al Pacino and Chris Sarandon is charming thanks to the strong performances by the two phenomenal actors. The movie also stars the late John Cazale, a true legend of the world of Hollywood movies. The film secured six Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture and Best Actor In A Leading Role for Pacino. Director Sidney Lumet’s directorial work got him an Oscar nomination for Best Director.
The heist, unfortunately, goes wrong and quickly turns into a hostage situation that garners live TV news coverage. The story and the performances by the cast are genuinely unforgettable, making this movie a must-watch for anyone who enjoys a bank robbery film.
6. The Killing (1956)
The Killing is Director Stanley Kubrick’s first feature and undoubtedly his best heist film. The Killings revolves around a group of thieves who rob a race track. This 1956’s most famous film is crafted like a game of chess with an impressive sequence and strong characters.
The Killings movie stars Sterling Hayden as the ringleader; he plans the race track robbery with utmost precision and attention to detail. He assigns specific roles to his group of supporting players to ensure everything goes according to the plan.
The Killings launched Stanley Kubrick’s impressive career; to date, The Killings is considered one of the finest heist movies. The Killings inspired hundreds of good heist movies that came after it.
7. A Fish Called Wanda (1988)
A Fish Called Wanda is the best option for you if you want to enjoy a good laugh while enjoying a thrilling heist movie. The film is about a thrilling jewelry heist gone wrong, plus the interesting double-crossing fallout among the main characters. A Fish Called Wanda is one of Monty Python alumnus John Cleese’s best heist scripts of all time. The movie stars Cleese Michael Palin, Kevin Kline, and Jamie Lee Curtis, who bagged an Oscar for the Best Supporting Actor for this film.
The movie offers several tight action sequences and an ending that keeps you on the edge of your seats. All the film’s characters are untrustworthy, and we love how the movie depicts the clash of cultures between the American and the British characters. A Fish Called Wanda is undoubtedly one of the funniest movie heist movies of all time.
8. The Getaway (1972)
The Getaway is directed by the all-famous Sam Peckinpah, and the screenplay is written by Walter Hill. The movie is filmed in southern Texas communities such as El Paso and San Antonio. The heist itself is impressively filmed with accuracy and precision by Sam Peckin.
The Getaway stars Steve McQueen and Ali MacGraw – the two lovers on the run after their heist plan goes wrong. A powerful local crime boss frees the couple from the jail, and to return the favor, Steve McQueen has no other option but to pull off a heist and rob a local bank. The heist plan goes horribly wrong, and Steve McQueen and Ali MacGraw end up on the run to the Mexican border.
The Getaway is a classic bank robber movie that is a must-watch for all heist genre fans.
9. Point Break (1991)
Point Break is worldwide famous for its not-so-typical bank robbery storyline. Point Break is about a group of surfers who rob banks to fund their trips around the world to surf some of the biggest waves worldwide.
Patrick Swayze has nailed his character as the head bank robber; you will also enjoy the thrilling performance of Keanu Reeves. He is an FBI agent tasked with infiltrating the bank robbers’ gang and stopping them in time before they rob another bank. The gang of robbers wears masks of former U.S. presidents while committing their crimes, which adds an interesting touch.
The director Kathryn Bigelow has done a marvelous job as the movie contains extremely tense bank-robbing scenes as well as several highly impressive shots of surfing and skydiving. Patrick Swayze and Keanu Reeves have nailed their game of cops and robbers. In conclusion, Point Break is a classic action heist movie that is definitely worth a watch.
10. Inside Man (2006)
If you want to enjoy a slick, energetic, and tightly-contained heist thriller, then Director Spike Lee’s Inside Man is the best choice. The movie is about an elaborate Wall Street bank robbery orchestrated by Dalton Russell (Clive Owen) within 24 hours. Inside Man also features Denzel Washington (Keith Frazier) as NYPD hostage negotiator and Jodie Foster (Madeline White) as Manhattan power broker.
The twist and turns in every step of the movie make it a true rollercoaster ride filled with thrill and excitement. Inside Man offers a fresh take on the heist blueprint, which is undoubtedly amongst Lee’s most inventive joints yet. Inside Man is Full of intrigue and suspense and keeps the audiences guessing what surprising discoveries will unveil next. You can stream Inside Man on HBO Max.
11. Thief (1981)
If you want to watch an early and vintage Michael Mann movie, then we highly recommend 1981’s Thief. James Caan plays a professional safecracker who takes on one last job for the mafia to crack an impenetrable safe. The movie takes a revenge turn when the James Caan character is double-crossed after he breaks the safe. With a solid supporting cast, including Tuesday Weld, Willie Nelson, and Jim Belushi, Thief is a top-class heist movie that is a must-watch.
Like many of Michael Mann’s movies, Thief is a complete package with rich character development, slow-build suspense, and explosive violence. If you love Michael Mann’s films, then Thief will definitely make it to your favorites list.
12. Heist (2001)
Heist is a worldwide popular heist movie written and directed by David Mamet. The film is also famous for featuring Gene Hackman’s final performances before he retired from acting in 2004. Hackman is an aging jewel thief; he ends up at odds with the crime boss whom he has served for years.
Sam Rockwell co-stars as the crime boss’s nephew, who watches over Gene Hackman as he pulls off his final heist.
Heist is a well-written heist thriller that is jam-packed with great wordplay and performances. Heist is filled with double-crossing and surprise twists. Heist sat the bar high for the heist films that came after this robbery movie with its exciting, tense, and unpredictable storyline. Heist is hands-down one of the best heist movies of recent times.
We hope that with our list of top 12 best bank robbery movies of all time, you will get to enjoy hours of thrill and suspense.
If you have watched any or all of our favorite heist movies, please share your reviews with Reviewsed. Also, we would love to learn about other bank robbery movies that are a must-watch; please share the movie names and your reviews with us in the comments below.