Ever since Robin Hood, storytellers have been fascinated with the idea of theft as a noble concept, a compelling element of civil disobedience that can have various social meanings attached to it. Of course, Robin Hood robbed the rich to give to the poor, leveling the field for underdogs, but as time has gone on, those underdogs have evolved into increasingly more-vicious beasts of prey.
This week’s release of Killing Them Softly continues and furthers the tradition, ascribing the same bottom-line motives held by major corporations and predatory bank lenders to mob bosses who want to avenge the robbery of a poker game by two low-level hoods. As the film’s star Brad Pitt recently told Interview magazine, the film is “a call for responsible capitalism.” Though Killing Them Softly specifically relates to contemporary times—it’s set during the run-up to the 2008 presidential election—it also hearkens back to a theme that’s been part of heist films for as long as they’ve been made: Various forms of oppression can be exposed, if not necessarily rectified, by donning a ski mask or dark sunglasses to make a big score.
Click through for five more films that have depicted the pursuit of ill-gotten gains for the greater good.
Photo: Plan B Entertainment