Shot in Canada, but sure, go with “American” Heist

Adrien Brody is impossibly miscast in this pedestrian heist film – pedestrian with the exception of martyring the villains. American Heist is American in so far that it takes a swipe at the banking system, spilling the words of JFK to justify the action, followed with, “The banking institutions are more dangerous than the army.” Tell us how you really feel movie.

Do not enter American Heist expecting formula – initially. To limited credit, this film ducks the obvious. American Heist is a family story. Brody is unintentionally hilarious with his hardened hand gestures and head cocking. Things only disintegrate further as he dumps detailed prison stories to on-screen brother Hayden Christensen in a justification for his criminal behavior.

Christensen is the straight man, working out of an an auto shop years after a short prison stint. His brother sucks him into a situation which, as predicted, sinks any sense of moral right. The heist is inevitable. It merely takes an hour to get there, wandering through generalized characters and typecasting. Jordana Brewster plays below her pay grade as a throw-away love interest who out of contrivance, is inserted loosely into the story’s finale. As with most female characters in a movie of this nature, she’s used purely as blackmail in case Christensen runs.

American Heist has shown it only exists for the cheap spectacle.

Once dialog settles, guns begin to fire. The heist is rote. Blueprints, masks, hostages, bank vaults; or, every B-level movie bank heist ever. Differences? This one has a low budget helicopter crash and characters die in a hail of bullets meant to represent the system which forced them into the situation. How ludicrous. American Heist does not implicate banks so much as it does its message. A point was intended – forcibly included by having Christensen repeatedly denied for a small business loan – but it’s a loss. Justification is a failure as innocent people are killed and cops are mowed down by the dozens. American Heist has shown it only exists for the cheap spectacle. Also, for a film situated in and referencing New Orleans, few films do less to establish the location. Filming was done, ironically, all in Canada. It shows.

Armenian director Sarik Andreasyan is at the helm, his first feature in English. The inspiration is clear – generations of American genre films – but what falls on screen is an embarrassing interpretation of racial stereotypes and failed economics… as seen mostly on film. American Heist leaves with no impact or necessity. [xrr rating=2/5 label=Movie]

They're totally going to be a thing @ 8:02

Despite appearing somewhat limited in budget, digital cinematography looks expensive. Sharpness is consistent with dazzling close-ups showcasing enormous levels of definition. Christensen’s mini-stache cannot be missed.

Color tinkering mutes flesh tones. Much of the film has an overcast. Interiors skew orange and teal. American Heist feels chilly, blues and grays interlocking to add a bit of mood even if the content fails. Primaries have limited room to breathe.

Thankfully black levels are there to prop up the material, offering plentiful depth. Night sequences give space to shadow details while maintaining their weight. Likewise, contrast is perky even with the somewhat muted style.

Lionsgate adds no compression issues or other visible goof in the move to Blu-ray. [xrr rating=4/5 label=Video]

While the film appears limited in funds, the audio mix says otherwise – at least until the closing chapter. American Heist comes fitted with a DTS-HD track which is cautious about space needs. Nothing moves through the image without equally panning through the soundfield. Cars pass freely, doors open/close in the proper channel, bars are ambient, and rain is heavy as it soaks into the surrounds. This type of accuracy is usually reserved for animated films.

While building to the eventual shoot-out, American Heist has a rather spectacular car stunt, causing a multi-car pile-up which hits the low-end generously while skidding tires pan in all directions.

Then the heist which is a letdown, with stock audio effects and minimal placement. Bullets use the width of the fronts if little else. Some glass breaking may stretch the stage, although only briefly. The helicopter crash matches the visual impact – a dull thud. An early rap selection fills the room with its LFE push. The explosion barely registers. [xrr rating=4/5 label=Audio]

One bonus feature is offered, the 26-minute Creating a Complex Caper. Note the sound balance is all over, so if you are interested in this rather “meh” extra, prepare to miss a few words. The only thing of interest is some discussion concerning Sarik Andreasyan who speaks no English. Everything went through a translator. [xrr rating=2/5 label=Extras]


Click on the images below for full resolution screen captures taken directly from the Blu-ray. Images have not been altered in any way during the process.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *