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Now You See Me, and other Robin Hood style heist movies By Richard Crouse Metro Canada Wednesay May 29, 2013

M_Id_391825_Now_You_See_MeIn just 12 minutes The Great Train Robbery tells the tale of a group of bandits who hold up a train and rob the passengers.

Made by Edwin Porter in 1903 it’s been placed on the United States National Film Registry for its innovative use of composite editing, camera movement and on-location shooting.

It was one of the first narrative movies and it introduced moviegoers to the heist movie, a tradition that continues to this day.

This weekend Now You See Me presents an elaborate crime story of a team of magicians — led by Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson and Isla Fisher — who abracadabra their way into bank vaults.

They are Robin Hood-style crooks, stealing money and giving it back to their audiences.

The “steal from the rich to give to the poor” is a common theme in heist movies. Recently Tower Heist saw a rag tag group clean out a Bernie Madoff type in order to refund money to the people he swindled.

The Maiden Heist stars Christopher Walken as a museum security guard infatuated with the painting that gives the movie its name.

When it is announced that the artwork has been sold to a Danish gallery he’s distraught — “Do you know how far away Copenhagen is?”— and ropes Morgan Freeman and William H. Macy into stealing the painting and two others so they can enjoy them together. Not exactly Robin Hood — they’re stealing from the rich to give to themselves — but their motives are artistically pure.

Not so pure are the reasons behind the heist in The Good, the Bad, the Weird — an Asian take on the similarly named Sergio Leone spaghetti western.

It’s a chaotic two-hour chase for a treasure map — and then the treasure — in 1930s wartime Manchuria between a bounty hunter (the Good, played by Jung Woo-sung), a leader of evil bandits (the Bad, Lee Byung-hun) and a train robber (the Weird, Song Kang-ho).

Director Ji-woon Kim calls this a “kimchee western,” after the national dish of Korea because the plot and film, like the people of Korea, he says, are spicy and vibrant.

The Good, the Bad, the Weird has a few laughs but A Fish Called Wanda’s story of armed robbery is a full-on comedy crime caper.

It has a 96 per cent rating on Rotten Tomatoes and was named one of the greatest British films of all time by Total Film.

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