Michael Bay makes his return to the big screen this weekend with Ambulance. The new film stars Jake Gyllenhaal and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as a pair of bank robbers who are forced to hijack an ambulance after a heist goes very, very wrong. Eliza González rounds out Ambulance’s central trio as a paramedic who has the unfortunate luck of being in the film’s titular emergency vehicle when it gets stolen and is subsequently taken hostage by Gyllenhaal and Abdul-Mateen II’s robbers.
For fans of Bay’s previous work, Ambulance offers many of the director’s trademark stylistic and visual techniques, as well as his love of overblown, mind-numbing action. The film’s premise also makes it the latest entry into cinema’s well-worn but beloved cops vs. robbers subgenre. With that in mind, here are 5 great heist movies that are all available to stream right now that provide many of the same thrilling pleasures Ambulance does.
The Town (2010)
Where to stream: Netflix, HBO Max
Ben Affleck’s second feature directorial effort ranks firmly as one of the best films of his career. Released in 2010, The Town follows the adventures of a group of skilled criminals whose lives become complicated when one of them falls in love with a bank employee they held hostage during one of their heists. In case that wasn’t bad enough, the group also comes under investigation from a ruthless FBI agent.
In addition to Affleck, who directs the film and stars as its lead, The Town boasts an impressive ensemble of performers, including Rebecca Hall, Jeremy Renner, Jon Hamm, Blake Lively, and Chris Cooper. Renner received an Oscar nomination for his performance as Affleck’s volatile, fiercely loyal best friend, but he’s not the only one who turns in standout work in The Town.
Logan Lucky (2017)
Where to stream: Hulu
Logan Lucky is a quirky and eccentric crime comedy made by one of the modern masters of the heist genre. It stars Adam Driver and Channing Tatum as a pair of down-on-their-luck brothers who agree to try pulling off a heist during a NASCAR race. Together, they assemble a crew that includes their clever sister (Riley Keough), a pair of dimwitted redneck brothers (Brian Gleeson and Jack Quaid), and an imprisoned explosives expert fittingly named Joe Bang (Daniel Craig).
The film is directed by Steven Soderbergh, the same director behind classic crime movies like Out of Sight and the Ocean’s trilogy, and it pulses with the same relaxed ease, wit, and style that those films do. It also features a crazed, over-the-top performance from Daniel Craig that should make anyone who witnesses it even more excited to see what his post-James Bond career ends up looking like.
Ocean’s Eleven (2001)
Where to stream: HBO Max
When modern-day audiences think about heist movies, the odds are high that the first they think of is Ocean’s Eleven — and for good reason. This Steven Soderbergh-directed remake of a 1960 film of the same name has so many of the things audiences have come to expect from the crime subgenre: An all-star cast of movie stars, a delightfully clever script, and a positively ludicrous central heist.
George Clooney plays the film’s eponymous criminal Danny Ocean, but he leads an ensemble cast that also includes everyone from glamorous stars like Brad Pitt, Julia Roberts, and Matt Damon to character actors like Don Cheadle, Carl Reiner, and Andy Garcia. Together, Soderbergh and the film’s cast make Ocean’s Eleven one of the most enjoyable and well-constructed heist movies ever made. There simply aren’t many movies as purely fun to watch as this 2001 classic.
Where to stream: HBO Max
Unlike Ocean’s Elevenwhich is content to be nothing more than a very well-executed but familiar heist movie, Inception wants nothing more than to bring as much originality to the genre as it can. Written and directed by Christopher Nolan, this 2010 film isn’t about breaking into a bank and stealing money. Instead, it’s about breaking into someone’s mind and implanting an idea in their psyche without them noticing.
To call Inception an ambitious reimagining of the heist genre would be a massive understatement. It’s a film that experiments with multiple sci-fi concepts and visuals, and it deals heavily with the difference between dreams and reality. But despite all of its various action and sci-fi elements, the film follows the same basic structure as a heist movie, which makes watching it an interesting exercise for fans of the genre.
Christopher Nolan is also one of the very few filmmakers who are as in love with creating massive practical action sequences as Michael Bay is. For that reason, Inception probably pairs better with Ambulance than fans might expect.
Hell or High Water (2016)
Where to stream: Netflix
If Inception is a reimagining of the traditional heist movie as a sci-fi blockbuster, then Hell or High Water is a heist movie told in the same style as a 1970s Western. Directed by David Mackenzie and written by Taylor Sheridan, this 2016 film follows a pair of Texas-born brothers as they begin pulling off a series of bank robberies in the hope of saving their family’s ranch.
Starring Chris Pine and Ben Foster as its central bank robbers, Hell or High Water not only features a number of memorable heist sequences but also explores why Pine and Foster’s characters chose to carry out their criminal schemes in the first place. As a result, the film ends up being just as much about the death of the American West as it is about two men pulling off high-stakes bank robberies.
The fact that it manages to do that while still being an entertaining and tense film is a testament to the work done by everyone involved in Hell or High Water.
Ambulance is now playing in theaters.