It’s time for an old school heist film with one character cracking real quick. I always enjoy a good heist film but I do think it’s more fun when the whole group is in on it. Since in this film the heist is basically a blackmail situation where they don’t even want to go through with it, it isn’t quite as fun as it would have otherwise been. Ultimately it’s still a good film but I probably would have played things out in a different direction. You feel like someone also should have stepped up to stop this madness right away.
The movie starts off as a slice of life title with 4 guys just enjoying their time at school. They haze a poor freshman the whole time so these aren’t the nicest of folks. I wouldn’t say any of the hazing is all that drastic but if they were more like true upstanding citizens then I don’t think they would have done that at all. It’s not something you would expect a hero to do after all. I liked that the kid actually got one victory against them with a sliding prank but it was short lived since naturally they used their power to overturn the results. You gotta try right?
Well the main plot is about how the gang always likes to go to the local casino to do some gambling. It’s the most well known gambling arena on the planet and is supposed to be even more secure than Fort Knox. Robbing the place is said to be impossible but Ronnie thinks that they can pull this off. He gets Roy and Brick to agree real quick but Al will be difficult since he doesn’t believe in robbery. Now Ronnie does plan to give the money back, the plan is to test if robbing the place is possible, not to actually steal the money but Al wouldn’t go for it either way. When Al proposes to Kay Ronnie realizes that this is perfect since they will drive him for a while and then get him to unknowingly help. What he doesn’t account for is that Brick has been slowly going insane and does want this robbery to go well. Not to test it but to actually steal the funds. Can they stop him?
Unlike most heist films I wouldn’t even say that the heist is most of the film. Before we get into any of that we have the school adventures and then the romance drama with Al and Kay. I don’t think that romance was very good either. At first Kay suggests that they take a break from each other which is a massive red flag but then after that when Al threatens to run off she goes back to him and they get engaged. I dunno that doesn’t seem like the best foundation for a long term relationship right? Things very nearly went sideways after all. Al gets upset a little too quickly and Kay doesn’t seem very confident in her decision so all in all that is not a great mix.
At least Al is against the robbery which is good. Way I see it, even if you don’t intend to steal the money this is just a horrible thing to do. You’re going to traumatize at least one person when you hold him at gun point and you are committing a big crime. Saying that it was all a prank afterwards doesn’t make things better in the slightest. So ultimately this just shows even more how unbalanced the characters are to even think about going through with a plan like this. It’s simply not a good idea in the slightest. Since Ronnie thought of this first he is one of the main characters to blame.
I know he was proud of his plan and how it could work. The film even heavily suggests that it really would work since everything goes pretty smoothly for them aside from the infighting. That said, just because you can do something doesn’t mean that you should do it. Roy is more of a follower and just goes along with what everyone says. He loses points for not being independent enough to say that this is a bad idea and maybe they shouldn’t go through with it. Sometimes you have to drag your friends back to the straight and narrow path.
Then we have Brick who was going insane right from the start when he was quick to beat someone up. Apparently he had severe PTSD which has really messed him up over time. Well now he’s really crossed the line by taking out a gun and threatening everyone. I would say by this point he was too far gone because that’s not something you can really take back. He was absolutely willing to murder anyone who stood in his way. If things had gone even slightly different then he could have easily become a mass murderer in the blink of an eye. It’s pretty crazy to think about. The scenes where he betrays the rest of the guys definitely comes across as real personal, especially with how Al had always had his back before then.
So the heist is pretty intense but just not fun the way that it usually is. In a way they come across as just common burglars rather than quirky thieves. The gun is a big part of this as well. In titles like Ocean’s Eleven and Tower Heist mainly you get the money by tricking people and using social engineering. When you’re doing the classic “I got a gun so give me the money!” it’s just a very different vibe. It also wouldn’t work nearly as well in the present with all the cameras around but of course back in the day it was always going to be a lot easier to pull this off. You’re rooting for the casino to stop these mad men the whole time. They’ve beaten all of the would be thieves before so they just need to pull off one more win!
Overall, The main moral of this is to always be careful who you associate with. If someone suggests committing a crime for fun then odds are that they are a little more detached from reality than they may appear. It’s a very slippery slope when you start committing crimes like this because usually things will start escalating further and further just like it happened in this film. Even if Brick didn’t go crazy and they did a victimless crime, they would probably want to do another one and another one until they eventually got to that point. The only way to win the game is not to play. The heroes also could have ended this a lot sooner by tackling Brick once they were inside. Yes it was a huge risk either way with their reputations but the sooner you take him down the sooner it all ends. The writing is good and the pacing is good so you should enjoy this as a solid cautionary tale. It may not be as upbeat as you’d expect from the first half of the film but it works well enough.