After taking directorial detours with The Winslow Boy and State and Main, David Mamet returns to familiar territory in Heist, a solid but ultimately minor crime caper. Mamet's winding script stays ahead of both his characters and the audience, so you always know something they don't, they know something you don't, and Mamet knows more than anyone. The fun comes from watching the various betrayals unfold, and the double-crosses and double-double-crosses are genuinely surprising. But by the end, there's so much gratuitous twisting and turning that the movie runs dangerously close to Wild Things-style self-parody. However, it's great to see Gene Hackman in his first real starring role in years, and there's something comforting about the presence of Mamet standards Rebecca Pigeon and Ricky Jay, as well as the always compelling Delroy Lindo and Danny DeVito. The only real mistake is the casting of Sam Rockwell as the frustratingly lame Jimmy Silk. For a character that plays such as pivotal role, he lacks the power to go toe-to-toe with the rest of the cast and is never credible as a romantic interest for Fran. To his credit, Mamet successfully keeps his characters from feeling like pawns until the very end, when the chessboard is revealed and you begin to see every move in the calculated plot. The climactic confrontation feels like a cheat, as Mamet takes the easy way out by resolving the central conflict with guns instead of brains. It's a letdown that this otherwise smart movie ends with a traditional Hollywood shootout and one final twist that seems more arbitrary than astonishing.