2015 / Director. Scott Mann.
Review by Glenn Cochrane.
Out of desperation to save his gravely ill daughter a good guy robs his boss and finds himself at the centre of a botched up crime that pits him in a high speed police chase on a bus full of passengers. The concept is simple and presents an action-thriller that exploits the genre well and echoes films like SPEED and THE TOWN.
Known as HEIST in North America and BUS 657 in other territories (including Australia) the film is a real sleeper. Perhaps I was out of the loop but it escaped my radar entirely until it landed in my lap unexpectedly. The casting on this one is quite good and I was surprised to see Robert DeNiro headlining the film. He plays the ruthless casino owner who sets about retrieving the three million dollars that was stolen from him. Such a role is hardly a stretch for DeNiro, however his delivery is a real throwback to some of the characters he gave us in films like CASINO, GOODFELLAS and HEAT. It's been a while since he's turned out a performance like this and it's a welcome return to the gangster goodness that we love from him.
The rest of the cast is good too with Jeffrey Dean Morgan leading the film effortlessly. His on-screen persona is captivating and he boasts a truly beguiling presence that provides the overall cohesion to the otherwise contrived plot. Other players include MORRIS CHESTNUT, DAVE BAUTISTA, KATE BOSWORTH and MARK-PAUL GOSSELAAR and they are all good.
Where the film falters is within the action itself. The sequences are well conceived and the stunt work is impressive, but the cinematography is mishandled. The complexities of the chases, explosions and human interactions are lost when they're presented in a seemingly safe and sedated fashion. Tighter close ups and less wide angles would have propelled the action further and given the film a much edgier pace. As I said, all of the action scenes were well staged, and at times original... it's a shame that they're just not captured as well as they could have been. The film HARD DRIVE suffered the same shortcomings.
Nevertheless HEIST is an unexpected and well written movie with solid performances. Its lack of polish awards it a gritty ambience and as a direct-to-video release it punches well above its weight.