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Every now and then a movie comes along that has so many twists and turns that its almost impossible to summarize. I'll do my best but may have to gloss over some of the incidentals.
The movie opens at a jewel heist where we meet Hackman and his gang. They are so good that its obvious they have worked together many times before. Hackman's wife Fran, (Rebecca Pidgeon) is working at a coffee shop and she makes 4 coffees to go for a jewelry store worker. She drugs the coffee and when he takes them back to the shop all the employees drink the coffee and pass out. Pinky (Ricky Jay) explodes a bomb on the street to create a disturbance and Hackman and his sidekick Delroy Lindo enter the jewelry store. One of the workers is still walking around (she didn't drink the coffee) so Hackman, not wanting to scare her, doesn't put on his mask as he approaches her. He uses a stun gun on her and she passes out. They make off with all the jewelry however Hackman is caught on the video tape without a mask.
He realizes that it's time to retire to some south sea paradise with his wife but first must deliver the jewels and collect his money from Danny Devito. Devito is only going to pay him half however and hold the rest till Hackman pulls one more caper... the Swiss Caper. And by the way, he wants Hackman to bring along Devito's nephew Jimmy (Sam Rockwell).
It took some doing but after a small argument and fight, Hackman agrees.
In setting the stage for the next heist, we learn that Jimmy is really a rookie in the crime game and almost gets Hackman busted by the police. Hackman talks his way out of it because as Pinky says... "He's so cool, sheep count him at night."
During the next hour or so, more of the stage is set for the big heist. Hackman doesn't think Jimmy can be trusted and has his wife seduce him to see where his true intentions lie. (At least I think thats why... I'm a little confused on that one.)
Eventually, the heist takes place. The group break into a small airport security gate, stop a cargo plane from taking off and while its sitting on the runway, they steal all the small boxes containing Swiss gold bricks.
On the way out, Delroy leaves, saying he'll see them at the meeting place, Jimmy knocks Hackman out and he and Fran take off in the van with the gold. They accidentally get run off the road and the boxes containing the gold fall out and Jimmy is shocked to find out that the cases actually contain small metal pieces (assorted washers).
Fran high tails it out of there, hitchhiking with the first trucker that comes by, and Jimmy heads back to Uncle Devito.
That night, Hackman and Delroy posing as businessmen, talk there way onto the plane still on the runway and walk away with 3 other missmarked cases that contain the real gold.
They head back to Hackman's workplace (he's a boatbuilder) and melt down the gold bricks into long poles. We then see Hackman polishing the new gold railing he put on his sailboat so we assume that they are actually the real gold.
Meanwhile, Devito kidnaps Pinky and threatens to kill his neice if he doesn't tell them where the gold and the meeting place is. He does and the neice is spared but they kill Pinky anyway.
Next we see Hackman sailing his boat to another dock, hoping to see his wife but instead sees Devito and his henchmen.
Hackman's wife Fran shows up and she apologizes that she had to tell them about the meeting place or else they would have killed him. She leaves with Jimmy.
Devito takes out his knife and tests the gold on the sailboat and realizes that it isn't gold. He's furious and demands to know where the gold is. Suddenly, Delroy appears from the side of the boat and a huge gunfight breaks out. It goes on for about 5 minutes and ends with everyone dead except Hackman, Delroy and a wounded Devito.
Devito is dying and wants to talk to Hackman. "Don't you want to hear my last words?" Devito asks. Hackman responds with... "I just did" and he shoots and kills him.
Later at a coffee shop, Delroy passes Hackman a matchbook with an account number on it and tells Hackman to wire him his share when he gets there.
Hackman returns to his shop and we see him putting the final touches of black paint on a bunch of long tubes that we again assume are the gold bars melted down.
Fran and Jimmy show up and they spare Hackman's life if he'll just let them leave with the tubes. Hackman is shocked that Fran wants to leave with Jimmy but agrees. They drive away.
Next we see Hackman getting into a beat up old truck full of junk. As he's leaving the garage he accidently scrapes one of the black metal pieces against the garage door and the black paint rubs off and we discover it is really gold.
He gets out and rearranges everything in back. When he lifts a tarp up, we see that the pickup is actually filled with gold. He puts the tarp back down and drives away.
The last scene is him driving with a nice smile on his face.
(I'm not sure if he was smiling because he got away with it or whether he knows that Fran is just pulling one last con on Jimmy and the two of them will be reunited in the caribean somewere.)
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