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Heist (2015) Blu-ray + Digital HD Review

Heist (2015) movie poster Heist

Theatrical Release: November 13, 2015 / Running Time: 93 Minutes / Rating: R

Director: Scott Mann / Writers: Stephen Cyrus Sepher (story & screenplay), Max Adams (screenplay)

Cast: Robert De Niro (Frank "The Pope" Pope), Jeffrey Dean Morgan (Luke Vaughn), Dave Bautista (Jason Cox), Kate Bosworth (Sydney), Gina Carano (Officer Krizia "Kris" Bajos), Morris Chestnut (Derrick "The Dog" Prince), Lydia Hull (Pauline), Mark-Paul Gosselaar (Detective Marconi), Stephen Cyrus Sepher (Julian Dante), D.B. Sweeney (Bernie), Tyler J. Olson (Steve), Alyssa Julya Smith (Rebecca), Hawn Tran (Tom), Christopher Rob Bowen (Eric), Renell Gibbs (Tagger), Ashley Valenzuela (Virginia), Elizabeth Windley (Riley), Tyson Sullivan (Mickey)

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Heist is as generic an action movie as you can find these days. Released to just 24 theaters for two weeks in November, this R-rated heist thriller stars Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Luke Vaughn,
a broke, desperate father who works at the Swan Casino in Las Vegas. Vaughn needs $300,000 to get his sick daughter the medical treatment she needs and insurance won't cover. At first, Vaughn plays to raise the money legitimately, bringing the matter to his ruthless boss, the Swan's owner for the past thirty years, Frank "The Pope" Pope (Robert De Niro). When he flat out denies extending such a favor to a longtime employee, Vaughn decides to take up the offer of Jason Cox (Dave Bautista), a casino security officer, to rob their mutual employer of $3 million.

The getaway plan involves hijacking a public bus in service and taking hostage the driver and commuters including a runaway boy and a man in a beaver costume. Like Speed crossed with Dog Day Afternoon (comparisons this film would love you to make), the crime evolves into a getaway plot with the criminals making demands of law enforcement, including potentially dirty detective Marconi (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) and the no-nonsense cop Kris (Gina Carano).

In "Heist", two men (Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Dave Bautista) knock off the casino that employed them and get away in a hijacked bus.

Directed by the UK's Scott Mann, who previously helmed 2009's The Tournament, Heist, unaffiliated with the 2001 David Mamet caper of the same name, is one of those movies whose shortcomings you can see from a mile away. There is no way that these accomplished actors couldn't have seen the very real potential for making a subpar movie
from the profanity-laced and otherwise unremarkable script by Stephen Cyrus Sepher and Max Adams, who have ascended to their creative positions from short films and the camera department of "Boardwalk Empire", respectively.

De Niro is really the only one in the cast -- which also includes D.B. Sweeney as the hijacked bus' driver, Morris Chestnut as the Pope's enforcer, and Kate Bosworth as the Pope's overalls-wearing estranged daughter in one disjointed scene -- still getting some choice offers sent his way and he hasn't displayed a good sense of selectivity in well over a decade. De Niro hams it up a little in a role that is perhaps supposed to remind you of his turn for Martin Scorsese in Casino, only with repeated monologues about electronic cigarettes. But nothing about this production really strikes you as believable or interesting or compelling. Vaughn should have our sympathy with his desperate daddy angle. But the thing is so bogged down in plot, tropes, and uninspired twists that we fail to stay invested or care about the daughter of his we rarely see.

Barely a month after its blink-and-miss theatrical release, Heist hit Blu-ray and DVD this week, on the final Tuesday of 2015.

Heist: Blu-ray + Digital HD combo pack cover art - click to buy from Amazon.com Blu-ray & DVD Details

2.40:1 Widescreen (DVD Anamorphic)

5.1 DTS-HD MA (English)
Subtitles: English, English for Hearing Impaired, Spanish
Not Closed Captioned; Extras Not Subtitled
Release Date: December 29, 2015
Suggested Retail Price: $24.99
Single-sided, dual-layered disc (BD-50)
Blue Eco-Friendly Keepcase in Cardboard Slipcover
Also available on DVD ($19.98 SRP), and on Amazon Instant Video


No one will mistake Heist for a big budget, big studio feature, but this little action movie looks perfectly fine on Blu-ray. The 2.40:1 visuals exhibit some light grain, while remaining suitably sharp and detailed throughout. The 5.1 DTS-HD master audio similarly gets the job done, not quite commanding notice, but nor raising any concerns.

Leading man Jeffrey Dean Morgan discusses the film's making in an audio commentary, making-of featurette, and extended interview. Robert De Niro's casino-owning villain fires a gun in this alternate scene.


The Blu-ray's extras begin with an audio commentary
by director Scott Mann, writer Max Adams, and leading man Jeffrey Dean Morgan. The prospect of these three men talking about this film at length should scare away most. I endured the often crude first half of them reflecting on the low-budget Alabama production, their preferred working title (Bus 657), and everyone who appears or leaves their mark on what's onscreen.

On the video side, where all is in HD, we start with a 4-minute, 8-second reel comprised of six deleted/extended scenes. They give us more of the bus passengers, an extended version of the Pope's retirement party toast, another planning scene, an elongated version of Vaughn's plea to Pope, and an alternate version of Zack Morris' comeuppance.

"The Making of Heist" (15:11) is a standard featurette serving up the usual blend of clips, behind-the-scenes footage, and talking heads. Not surprisingly, given the subject, it overstays its welcome a bit.

Next, a Cast/Crews Interviews section provides extended looks at the sitdowns which feature in the previous piece. We hear from director Scott Mann (7:29), screenwriter Max Adams (6:11), and actors Jeffrey Dean Morgan (4:26), Kate Bosworth (4:43), Mark-Paul Gosselaar (3:35), Gina Carano (4:09), Morris Chestnut (2:34), and D.B. Sweeney (4:37). That's right, De Niro is a no-show and who can blame him? Every one of the eager interviewed subjects overstates the movie's achievements.

Heist's own theatrical trailer (2:25) is kindly preserved here.

Finally, "Also from Lionsgate" repeats the disc-opening trailers for Sicario, Wild Card, John Wick, Zero Tolerance, Extraction and American Ultra.

The ordinary main menu loops a scored montage bathed in blue. The Blu-ray supports both resuming and bookmarks.

A single-sided insert provides a code and directions for accessing the Digital HD UltraViolet copy of the film included with your purchase. It's all that joins the full-color disc in the eco-friendly keepcase that is topped with a glossy slipcover.

Time out! Is that Mark-Paul Gosselaar (with Gina Carano) in his first theatrical movie since 1998's "Dead Man on Campus"? It sure is.


Heist adds another lackluster, barely theatrical credit to Robert De Niro's once sterling filmography. A hijacked bus is not enough to distinguish this unimaginative crime action thriller. Lionsgate's Blu-ray offers fine picture and sound plus more bonus features than anyone will care to get through. This is an easy one to pass on.

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Reviewed December 31, 2015.

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