Grand Theft Auto V’s Hollywood Heists
Since every heist has a beginning, middle, and end, I guess it was only natural that grand larceny should make itself at home among the Hollywood Hills, where a good three-act structure has always been in high-demand.
Act one is all about the planning – this is when joints get cased, equipment is prepped, and weaknesses sussed out. But importantly this is also the time when you learn about the character dynamics in play – who’s in charge and who’s likely to crumble under pressure. Part two is the exciting bit – the heist itself. As Hannibal would attest, it’s terribly satisfying to see a plan come together – especially when every person plays their part and each piece of equipment comes in handy. Finally, the closing act – the aftermath, when allegiances are divided along with the spoils.
Heists are integral to the structure of Grand Theft Auto V, but right now we know very little about them. And since there are only a handful peppered throughout the campaign, it’s likely they’ll contain major plot-points. One thing we do know, however, is that Michael is quite the film buff, and his love affair with the silver screen begins to influence the game’s heists. It’s even something Franklin and Trevor like to tease him about. Even in one of the smaller missions, there’s a definite allusion to Michael Mann’s Heat, with Michael donning a boiler suit and hockey mask as the boys tip over an armoured truck using a very familiar ploy.
But what else can we expect Michael to take from the movies? Below are some ideas on how the silver screen could flavour GTA V’s set-piece heists.
The Italian Job: The Original Getaway
One of the most famous getaways in cinema involves three Mini Coopers weaving through the bustling shopping arcades of Rome. It also involves Michael Caine shouting at people. But what’s most tantalising about Michael watching classic caper movie The Italian Job is the number three. It’s not hard to imagine how this could all play out in GTA. Switching dynamically while on the run might sound disorientating at first, but think how exciting it would be to strategically lure cops in one direction with Trevor and Michael, leaving Franklin free to ready a second getaway vehicle.
So like the Italian Job, Trevor and Michael could be tearing through shopping malls, around factories, gatecrashing weddings, before making a final escape by driving up a ramp into a coach being driven by Franklin. And if that’s not whet your appetite considerable, replace those Mini Coopers with helicopters. There you go.
Ocean’s Eleven: Getting Creative
It’d be pretty boring if all the heists in GTA V followed the same blueprint: run into a bank with an automatic rifle and an empty duffle bag. Whatever you might think about it’s sequels, Danny Ocean recognised not only the importance of having a team – there is 11 of them after all – but how creativity can really help you get away with it. Danny Ocean uses a mix of charm and stagecraft to get what he wants, not brute force and bullets. And though Michael has no qualms with resorting to violence, he might be persuaded to plan a heist with a touch more invention than simply donning masks.
Switching between characters isn’t just limited to when they’re in physical proximity. You can hop between them no matter where they are in the great city of Los Santos and beyond. So what about a heist that takes place with each character in different parts of the map? Michael could take the ‘mark’ out for dinner, buying Trevor time to sneak into his office. But what about the security system? No worries, Franklin’s got it covered – he’s broken into the security firm on the edge of town and disabled it remotely. While it’s easy to imagine GTA’s heists are straightforward bank jobs, the ability to switch between characters who can be anywhere in an entire state really explodes the possibility of what we might traditionally consider a heist.
Inception: Playing With Reality
Far Cry 3 recently demonstrated how the sudden introduction of potent narcotics can let you momentarily flee from the everyday into the unreal. Famously Inception was the heist movie that took place within the human mind. While I don’t expect Michael to turn up with a briefcase full of sedative and crank up ‘Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien’, it’s not unthinkable that one of the heists might delve into the surreal via the use of hallucinogenics. It’s possible that Breaking Bad could be an influence here, too. So far we’ve only had a glimpse of the desert in GTA V, but if you venture into the arid wilderness I fully expect there to be drug deals gone wrong, blood soaking into sand, and camper vans full of crystal meth.
So what if some of those drugs are imbibed (accidentally, of course), warping the world around our motley crew of criminals? I don’t expect Trevor to be running along a rotating corridor, but imagine trying to get away while the world is slowly melting around you; it would certainly be a way to make one of GTA V’s main heists stand out from the rest. And what’s more, using the drugs conceit is a great way to indulge in fantasy without shattering the reality of the world you’ve painstakingly built.
Reservoir Dogs: “Everything’s Going To Be Okay!”
Everything’s not going to be okay.
Quentin Tarantino has always been a director who likes making films about films – he loves to play with genre, splicing different styles and periods. He also likes to subvert expectations. His debut feature Reservoir Dogs is a classic example. It’s a heist movie, but while most films in the genre concentrate on the first two acts, his debut feature unnaturally fixates on the third: the bloody aftermath.
For you to even reach the end of the game it’s safe to assume that the heists have to go, roughly, to plan. But when you reach the end of the game, all bets are off.
Could the final mission in GTA V conclude with our three main protagonists turning on each other in an abandoned warehouse? As we now all too well, Rockstar isn’t afraid of disposing of its protagonists when it sees the ending in sight. Inspired by Tarantino’s classic, how memorable would it be to end GTA V with Michael, Franklin, and Trevor locked in a Mexican stand-off with the player forced to kill two of the three characters they’ve spent an entire game identifying with.
So those are some of my favourite movie heists, and how I think they might have influenced not just Michael but a few people up at Rockstar North when developing some of GTA V’s set-pieces. And even if I’m wrong – and let’s face it, I probably am – rewatching those movies, reliving those fraught and often exhilarating moments, has really got me excited about the unique scenarios presented by having three playable characters.
Daniel is IGN’s UK Staff Writer. You can be part of the world’s most embarrassing cult by following him on IGN and Twitter.
By Daniel Krupa