Heist films are just as popular, if not more so, than those of gangsters, and perhaps for the same reasons. The question is not only whether we would have the courage to do it ourselves, but whether we would not die of a heart attack later, when the police start investigating. And this is the situation in which the protagonists find themselves here.
There are actors that seem to have always been old. Take, for example, Morgan Freeman. Don’t you have the feeling that he’s been playing an old person with a lot of responsibility for 30 years? And these actors don’t stop chaining roles one after the other with good results. Freeman was a minor player with no relevance until he was “discovered” in Driving Miss Daisy, when he was 52 years old, and has not stopped since.
Something similar happens to Michael Caine, who had a good time as a light actor in his youth, back in the 70s, but resurfaced as an actor of character in his maturity and also does not stop working. Fortunately for those of us who follow him, because Nolan’s Batman wouldn’t be the same without Caine’s phlegm playing the butler Alfred.
Here we find him in a very grateful role, as an intelligent man but cornered by the circumstances of life, devoted to the memory of a wife who died after a long agony of cancer 15 years ago, to whom he dedicated all his time and love. And I say grateful because you need to be a good actor to play “average Joe” roles, and Caine plays that humble janitor, who spends an hour polishing the floor with his hands, delaying his departure from work for a few minutes to clean a clogged toilet. And yet he maintains all the dignity of the character throughout the story.
Almost the same can be said of Demi Moore, because after having played strong women like Lieutenant O’Neill in G.I. Jane or Meredith Johnson in Disclosure, here she plays another strong woman, but so besieged by fears and insecurities that she spends the whole film on the edge of a nervous wreck.
In a certain way, Moore’s character is almost a companion to the viewer, who discovers what is happening one surprise after another, and ending up nail biting, not knowing very well what will happen next.
The plan of these two characters, an old janitor and a rundown executive, to get revenge on the company that has mistreated them is the story of a £100 million diamond heist that keep us all the time hooked on the screen, with a good dialogue, a steady narrative and a surprising ending, very appreciated in these movies.
If the protagonists are doing well, the secondary characters are not far behind, starting with Joss Ackland, impeccable as a potentate trying to preserve his empire, and ending with the one who plays the receptionist, who convinces us that he has been working there all his life. The setting, the details, everything is so careful recreated, including the gray and sober atmosphere in tune with the atmosphere of London in the late 60s, where the story takes place.
If anything, I agree with some critics that the prelude and epilogue, trying to frame everything the life of a great woman who makes great works, is an unnecessary touch in the script. It doesn’t add anything and if it was meant to be a feminist argument, it fails miserably, because the conclusion is that this “great woman” owes her fortune to an old janitor who gave her everything she ever got in life. If you’re curious, I recommend you see it. It is not a waste of time at all, although it’s neither one of those movies you see again and again.