Tweezers and Toblerones

The Heist - Janet Evanovich, Lee Goldberg
"To our grand adventure.”
“This is not an adventure,” Kate said. It’s a job. We aren’t doing it for fun or profit.”

“Okay, let’s try this again,” Nick said, and raised his glass for a new toast. “To a long and fruitful relationship.”
“This isn’t a relationship,” Kate said. “It’s strictly professional. Don’t you forget that for one second.”

Nick sighed and held up his glass again, eyeing her warily as he said,” May misfortune follow us the rest of our lives but never catch up.”

I love heist movies. Mostly because it offers up the possibility of slick camera-work, interesting characters and situations ripe with possibilities of humour and wit. Mixing that with the sexual tension between the FBI agent who has been relentlessly pursuing the charming con-man just makes it near-impossible to resist for me.

While I certainly did enjoy The Heist for certain stretches, it still leaves a lot of room for improvement. Don’t expect Steven Soderbergh’s finesse and panache. There was very little room for the mystery to develop seeing as you’re spoon-fed the information extensively ahead of time. It was more of the pilot episode of a mid-budget, cable TV version of Ocean’s Elevenwith a too simplistic con being executed by an uninspired team of non-swindlers. 

Sombeody mentioned Leverage and I whole-heartedly agree.

This had a lot of the proper ingredients available in in half the measure that is appropriate to make the perfect dish. I liked the off-the-bat pop culture references and I always tip my hat to fellow Casino Royale fans (the online poker player named Le Chiffre did not go unnoticed). I did like some of the details in the protagonists' personalities but I’m expecting much, much more in the next installments. 

Kate O’Hare as the hardcore and driven FBI agent was fun in the way Sandra Bullock presents fun: the snort-giggler whose dinner always ends up in her shirt somehow but can also kick ass. She's also effortlessly attractive without putting much stock on her appearance. These are quite tricky to pull off and not make the heroine annoying but somehow she works well enough for me. I like hearing her thoughts but I could do away with the “Jeez Louise”-ing, “criminy”-ing and “Holy Toledo”-ing, thanks. They weren’t copious to the point of offense in the book but the fact that a former Navy Seals even utters them makes me cringe.

Nick Fox as the cunning and charming con artist was very reminiscent of Neal Caffrey, Matt Bomer’s character from White Collar. He did come off charming and convincing as a con-man, but his chemistry with Kate came across half-hearted. I do like the promise of his character background. It offers some intriguing possibilities, what with all the Harvard history and the too subtle glimpses in the life he leads outside his profession. I can only hope for better depth and personality beyond the mildly amusing comebacks and the twice-brushed set of pearly whites as the series goes. Because with how this went, I got more laughs reading about Kate bantering with Jake (her father) than with Nick.

He’d missed a lot of Christmases and birthdays during her childhood, but not many fathers could be counted on to mount a prison break.

After being caught by Kate, Nick manages to finagle a deal with the FBI higher-ups to help them catch a Bernie Madoff kind of villain, through his extra-legal talents in exchange for his freedom in five years. The best part of a heist story for me is the recruitment of the team players in the act. The choices here were a little too obvious: a frustrated, uncompromising method actor, a special effects guy trying to survive in the digital age, a failedAmazing Race contestant and Tom Underhill. I can understand why Nick chose the first first three but I’m quite hazy why Tom was included in the con outside him being a big black guy. This ofcourse requires you to believe that given the option of committing a crime to bring down an embezzler, people will agree with very few conditions. Much as how it will require you to believe that “Bernie Madoff”s lawyer will take out a woman he meets in Facebook and invite her to his home on their first date. I still like my fluff with a dash of believability but your mileage may vary.

The Heist thrusts its characters in exotic locations, making the narrative stray towards travel guide territory which I actually appreciated seeing as these were the moments where there was actual meat to the skeletal delivery of Kate and Nick’s adventures. It feels a bit compensatory, I suppose, and unfortunately didn’t do the job well enough seeing how this ended couldn’t have been flatter than if the villains were left scratching their heads in disappointment.

So entirely fluffy, serviceable chemistry between leads with some above average secondary characters here and there. But with enough entertainment value and potential for me to be hopeful for the next book.