Favourite Thrillers and Crime Capers

Major heists, double-crosses, dirty cops and femme fatales. All perfect ingredients that keep us coming back again and again to our favourite thrillers and crime capers. 

From a robbery gone wrong in Dog Day Afternoon to comedy crime caper A Fish Called Wanda. Hollywood magic has brought villainous rogues and historical legends to life. But what is it about these iconic films that make us invest hours of our time to watch plots unfold? 

Here we’ve rounded up some of our favourite thrillers and crime capers of all time that continue to inspire us at Exciting Escapes: 

Image: imdb.com

Dog Day Afternoon (1975)

If you want to see Al Pacino in one of his most memorable roles, then your first stop needs to be the granddaddy of all heist-gone-wrong films, Dog Day Afternoon. 

The film starts as three men set out to rob a New York bank within ten minutes. But, things start to go wrong from the very beginning as one of them bails at the last minute. Four hours later, the bank is surrounded by police, crowds of interested locals and a media circus. 

What sets Dog Day as more than just another heist movie is that it is a gripping picture of a city close to meltdown. You get the visceral sweltering hot 70s New York scenes that become the backdrop to the counter-cultural jamboree that plays out in the botched bank robbery attempt. 

But, the film allows the audience to enjoy all the criminal shenanigans while identifying with the perpetrators without judgement. Plus, who doesn’t like seeing things unravel disastrously before their eyes from the comfort of their seat? 

Daring and brilliant, Dog Day Afternoon is a film ahead of its time. 

Image: newyorker.com

Reservoir Dogs (1992) 

Quentin Tarantino’s dazzling debut, Reservoir Dogs, is a cult classic that continues to subvert cultural norms and push the boundaries of both storytelling and filmmaking. 

Fresh from its release, the film ignited a flurry of newsprint surrounding the morality of on-screen violence while earning its place at the Sundance Festival. But what is it about Reservoir Dogs that draws us in? 

The plot, at first glance, is simple: five complete strangers team up for the perfect crime. Something goes wrong, and one of the men is an infiltrator working for the cops. But who is the rat? 

For Tarantino, telling the story of a heist gone wrong was never enough. Instead, you get an “answers first, questions later” narrative interlaced with fascinating dialogue diversions and ubiquitous pop culture references. 

Bring Tim Roth, Steve Buscemi, Harvey Keitel and Michael Madsen into the mix, and you’ve got an explosive plot that teeters between Tarantino’s pop-cultural sensibilities, mixed with the world of diamond heists and crooks. Darkly comic, provocative and nailing why film is better than real life, Reservoir Dogs is essential viewing for lovers of dark comedy and thrillers! 

Image: themovieelite.com

A Fish Called Wanda (1988) 

Lovers and partners in crime, Otto (Kevin Kline) and Wanda (Jamie Lee Curtis) pull off a successful diamond heist in the heart of London. But that isn’t enough. Together they plan to double-cross their boss and land him in jail. The catch? He is the only one who knows where the loot is. 

Wanda has to play seductress only to fall for the man (Archie) that she and Otto are trying to play. As the plan starts to go awry, you get sucked into one of the greatest comedies of all time. 

Based on the classic Ealing comedies of the 1940s and 50s, Charles Crichton and John Cleese created a Python-esque masterpiece. From a gang trying to outwit eachother to the culture clash between Otto and Archie (John Cleese), this makes for a satisfying blend of British humour meets outlandish crime caper. 

Image: imdb.com

Ocean’s Eleven (2001)

Yes, Ocean’s Eleven is a remake of the classic Rat Pack starring 60s classic. But unlike its predecessor, the cast doesn’t buckle under pressure. Instead, you get a polished jewel of a flim that holds nothing back. 

Fresh out of prison, Danny Ocean (George Clooney) sets up a dream robbery. He enlists ten other experts to help him pull off one of the biggest heists of all time. 

The Objective: break into three of the biggest Las Vegas casino vaults without raising the alarm. With a cool $150 million a piece, Ocean plans to win back his ex-wife Tess (Julia Roberts), who just happens to be dating high-profile casino owner Terry Benedict (Andy Garcia.) 

Under Steven Soderbergh’s direction, you’re greeted by an effortless masterclass in entertainment. The story deliciously spills out frame by frame so that the plot can twist quicker than you can catch on.

Slick, glamorous and with no gangster or gun cliches in sight. This is a movie that plays into the perfect crime caper fantasy with relish. 

Image: hollywoodreporter.com

In the Heat of the Night (1967)

Based on John Ball’s lean thriller, In the Heat of the Night is more than just another small-town murder mystery. 

Sidney Poitier stars as Detective Virgil Tibbs, a cool big-city cop who gets arrested after a bizarre murder is committed. After a tussle with the Sherriff (Rob Steiger), Tibbs gets drafted in to help with the investigation. 

Led by Poitier’s understated performance, the plot is a gripping look into the social and racial undercurrent of the city as it comes to a head. The film’s twisting storyline digs up nasty secrets and delves into the heart of darkness. It exposes suspicious suspects and a truly despicable killer. 

Image: imdb.com

The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

Grotesque moths, cannibals and blood-curdling atrocities shape the mesmerising plot of The Silence of the Lambs. Set in a troubled America that hides an uncomfortable undercurrent of violence under its skin, this tense serial killer tale borders on pure horror. 

The film’s saviour is found in FBI trainee Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster) as she steps into the nightmarishly manipulative world of Dr Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins). With his taste for fava beans, Chianti and liver, the whole film is framed by the unyielding plot that leads to the spine tingling grand finale. 

So there you have it. Our favourite thrillers and crime capers keep us on our toes, fuel our imaginations and push the boundaries of storytelling to the extreme. Which one will you watch first?