Directed by David Mamet, starring Gene Hackman, Danny De Vito, Delroy Lindo, Rebecca Pidgeon, Ricky Jay and Sam Rockwell.

It's not that long since Hollywood offered us an industry stalwart in the role of master thief. Gene Hackman starred as an adulterous president in 'Absolute Power', while Clint Eastwood played the professional burglar. Whether or not Hackman refused the role then, here he dons the black leather gloves and sets out on a series of super-heists.

Hackman - happily married to a vivacious young wife - is due to cash in his chips as thief supremo. His business partner Bergman (Danny De Vito) is suspicious about how honestly the spoils from their last job will be divvied up and sends along his smug, rookie nephew to keep an eye on things.

Before long, the gang is up to their swag bags in double-crossing rip-offs and the plot has more twists and turns than a ringleted Riverdancer. Just when you think you've sussed what's going on, another plot twist (albeit a predictable one) jumps out like a malfunctioning jack-in-the-box. For every plan B, there's a plan C,D, and E which is at best confusing and at worst tiresome. Such a labyrinth of turns ensures that the film ends up parodying itself grossly.

The banality of the over-reaching plot is slightly salvaged by excellent performances by Hackman and DeVito with henchmen Lindo and Jay as formidable sidekicks. As the twists get progressively laughable and irritating, it's clear that any attempts at updating this stale genre have been bypassed here.

Sinéad Gleeson