I might be alone on this, but when it comes to heist movies, it seems like the genre has a few really great standouts and then a long list of copycats revamping the same similar plot with minor changes. Somebody wants revenge on their old crew after being wronged, or the aging crook wants to make one last big score before retiring to the island life. Netflix might not have Heat or fan favorites like the Oceans series currently available for streaming, but there are still some decent offerings that even when they veer into tired territory, have something to offer with fluid performances, action sequences or off-beat humor.
We’ll kick off the list of highest rated heist flicks with one of Netflix’s most popular offerings that was covered back in our list of crime thrillers.
The Usual Suspects 4.3 stars out of 4,314,773 ratings.
Equal parts mystery and thriller, The Usual Suspects remains one of the most popular films of the 90s. Keeping up with the movie’s flashbacks and plot twists isn’t the easiest thing on first time viewing, but Bryan Singer’s story of five crooks coming together to plan a heist only to wind up dead brilliantly comes together by the end. While the shipyard gunfight scene provides some well-received action, it’s the Kayser Söze con that makes the movie a must-see and deserving of the number one spot. Rotten Tomatoes 96, IMDB 8.7
Reservoir Dogs 4 stars out of 7,885,702 ratings
Like The Usual Suspects, we covered Reservoir Dogs back in our roundup of Netflix’s thrillers available for instant watch. Tarantino’s directorial debut skips over the planning and crew assembly that goes along with most heist movies and shows us what happens when a heist goes horribly wrong and becomes a bloody mess. The nonlinear storytelling, along with its gratuitous/humorous violence make it one of the more enjoyable crime flicks currently available. Rotten Tomatoes 94, IMDB 8.4
Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels 3.9 stars out of 3,261,992 ratings.
Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels added a much-needed dose of humor to the heist movie and was a stylish debut for director Guy Ritchie. It drew comparisons to Quentin Tarantino’s movies upon its release, but even with its similar style and violent tendencies, the story of gangsters and loan sharks colliding over drugs and a prize of antique shotguns after a card game gone wrong is two hours without a dull moment. Rotten Tomatoes 76, IMDB 8.2
The Italian Job 3.8 stars out of 12,762,298 ratings
All in all, the 2003 remake of the 1969 Michael Cain film is a fast-paced thrill ride with a cast that provides equal amounts of humor to balance out the Mini Cooper chases. Seth Green and Jason Statham fall into their appropriate roles of geeky computer wiz and smooth-talking tough guy, with Mark Whalberg, Charlize Theron, Ed Norton and Donald Sutherland all contributing strong performances as well. The story of a thief and his crew trying to pull a gold heist against their former mentor doesn’t try to be anything more than a fun action movie and successfully delivers on that front. Rotten Tomatoes 80, IMDB 7.0
The Thomas Crown Affair 3.8 stars out of 1,922,038 ratings
Just like The Italian Job, Thomas Crown is another remake, this time updating Steve McQueen’s 1968 film. Pierce Brosnan is believable as a millionaire playboy who enjoys the pastime of stealing artwork from right under the NYPD’s nose, and Renee Russo plays the seductive female investigator closing in on him. The chemistry between Bronsan and Russo doesn’t exactly burn up the screen, but the caper should have enough twists to keep you awake. Rotten Tomatoes 77, IMDB 6.8
Parker 3.8 stars out of 1,941,017 ratings
Hollywood knows that people want to see Jason Statham doing two things: kicking people upside the head and stealing stuff. It really doesn’t matter if he’s stealing by himself or as a team, those are just trivial details. This time around, Statham plays a thief who only steals from those who can afford it and only kills those who deserve it, because he’s just a swell guy like that. After he’s double-crossed, Statham aims for payback by pulling a heist on the crew that wronged him. Don’t expect anything groundbreaking, but do expect Jason Statham delivering his brand of action to the fullest. Rotten Tomatoes 49, IMDB 6.2
Jackie Brown 3.7 stars out of 2,175,357 ratings
Quintin Taraninto’s L.A. adaptation of Elmore Lenord’s Rum Punch remains faithful to the story other than the scene location, and functioned as a comeback vehicle for Ms. Foxy Brown herself, Pam Grier. After being picked up by the Feds for gun and drug smuggling, Grier’s flight attendant character must figure out how to avoid doing time or ending up in the trunk of gun trader Ordell (Samuel L. Jackson). As to be expected, Tarantino’s characters are generally terrible people, but charismatic enough to make you like them, or at the very least, enjoy watching them try to kill each other. Rotten Tomatoes 85, IMDB 7.5
The Score 3.7 stars out of 1,862,295 ratings
One of The Score’s strongest selling points are its three lead three actors: Robert De Niro, Ed Norton, and Marlon Brando (in his final acting role). The story isn’t anything that hasn’t already been done in a heist film before, but overall, it’s a satisfying crime caper. De Niro plays an aging thief who comes out of retirement for one last big score at the persuasion of his old business partner, and in order to pull the heist and steal an antique they’ll have to rely on their inside man, played by Norton. There’s not much for shoot’em up action, but the unfolding complexities of the job itself is enjoyable enough without feeling overly ridiculous. Rotten Tomatoes 67, IMDB 6.8
The Art of the Steal 3.7 stars out of 192,533 ratings
Art of the Steal should be a good movie just based on its cast alone. Kurt Russell, Matt Dillon, and Jay Baruchel are all fine in their roles, it’s the heist that weighs the movie down. An aging thief wants to go out on top and pulls his old gang together for one last big art score, but egos get in the way and the plan veers into disaster. The movie took its fair share of criticism for feeling at little too much like every heist film before it, only with fewer thrills and one plot twist too many. But even when it’s treading on worn out territory, there’s enough humor that fans of the genre should find it amusing. Rotten Tomatoes 39, IMDB 6.3
Flypaper 3.6 stars out of 497,581 ratings
Flypaper isn’t so much a heist film as it is a romantic comedy caught up in the middle of a bank robbery gone wrong. After walking into a bank the film’s main character (Patrick Dempsy) finds himself trapped as two opposing crews try to pull off the same bank job. While trying to avoid being caught on the wrong side of the gun, he falls for the bank teller that is also being held hostage. The movie becomes a whodunit thriller when people start to end up dead, the only problem is that the story is such a mess it’s a struggle to even care. Rotten Tomatoes 41, IMDB 6.4
Steal 3.6 stars out of 360,904 ratings
Is Steal a good heist movie? Not even close. It is however, incredibly action packed with over the top stunts that are enjoyable just for their sheer ridiculous visuals. On Netflix it’s listed as Steal, but on IMDB it’s listed as Riders, as confusing as that is, it’s not important to the movie’s story about a gang of rollerblading/snowboarding/skydiving bank robbers. I have no idea how this movie got made, but I’m assuming that Mountain Dew or Red Bull somehow leveraged Stephen Dorff into doing it. What it lacks in plot it makes up for with police cars colliding into buses. Rotten Tomatoes 29, IMDB 5.5
Citizen Gangster 3.6 stars out of 233,290 ratings
The indie crime movie is based on one of Canada’s most notorious criminals, Eddie Boyd. After returning to Toronto following WWII, Boyd is frustrated with his efforts to make it as a famous actor and turns to bank robbing to provide for his family. Since he’s unable to become famous in the movies, Boyd adopts a thematic personality for his criminal exploits becoming more daring with each new heist. While the movie’s story of a man assembling a bank robbery crew, isn’t much different from Public Enemies or any other period piece about bank robbers, actor Scott Speedman was praised for his in-depth portrayal of the 20th century bandit. Rotten Tomatoes 42, IMDB 6.1