Six Damn Fine Degrees #118: When you’re tired of robbing casinos…

Welcome to Six Damn Fine Degrees. These instalments will be inspired by the idea of six degrees of separation in the loosest sense. The only rule: it connects – in some way – to the previous instalment. So come join us on our weekly foray into interconnectedness!

Pretty much from its infancy, cinema recognised the dramatic potential of crime. Whether we’re talking about whodunnits in the style of their literary ancestors, films in which the protagonists were sleuths and detectives, or their counterparts, the movies that told the stories of gangsters, thieves and murderers, crime pays – at the very least in ticket sales. Something else cinema exceeds at: showing us people who are very, very good at what they do. There’s a joy to watching consummate professionals at work. (There’s even a phrase for it, competence porn, and Breaking Bad‘s Mike Ehrmantraut is its laconic patron saint.) And, of course, there’s the place where the Venn diagram meets: many a highly entertaining film has been about criminals who are good at their particular genre of crime. The con men and women, the safe breakers and thieves, and yes, even the killers who are just so damn adept at killing that it’s delightful to watch them go about their gruesome business.

And at the heart of the intersection of those two sets is a particular brand of movie, about a particular brand of criminals who do a very specific kind of crime requiring the upmost professionalism: the heist movie.

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