Netflix UK film review: Coin Heist
James R | On 01, Feb 2017
Director: Emily Hagins
Cast: Sasha Pieterse, Alexis G. Zall, Alex Saxon, Jay Walker
Watch Coin Heist online in the UK: Netflix UK
“How did you know that would work?” “I didn’t, but I’ve seen a lot of heist movies.” That’s the kind of dialogue you can expect from the teenage quartet planning a heist in Netflix’s latest original movie. But before you can say Breakfast Club meets Ocean’s 11, what sounds like it could be a fun, snappy high school flick soon swerves into less conventional territory.
That, in itself, is no bad thing. We’re swiftly introduced to our four main characters: the perfect student, Dakota (Pieterse); her ex, Jason (Saxon), the slacker and principal’s son; the hacker, Alice (Zall); and the athlete, Benny (Walker). And, rather than give us stereotype after stereotype, writer/director Emily Hagins works to serve up something more realistic. Jason’s slacker is quieter than you might expect, giving him something in common with the relatively reclusive Alice. Even Benny and Dakota begin to develop a romance that’s moderately unexpected.
Throughout, there’s no banter between the group, or so-square-it’s-cool lingo, and the cast eagerly commit to that naturalistic style, with Zall and Walker both acting against type, given their sizeable followings on social media, where they have become known for their comedy skits. But while that’s commendable in concept, it’s less successful in execution.
The dialogue, while believable, is lacking in spark, which only emphasises the absence of tension from the heist itself. The biggest misstep, though, is that the central scheme doesn’t make much logical sense – a shame, given the strive towards real life elsewhere. Jason, our main protagonist, is ashamed by his dad being arrested for embezzling $10 million from his school coffers, and so he winds up assembling a motley crew of unlikely partners to steal from the US mint – a course of action that never quite rings true. Why go along with Alice’s illegal idea to correct the consequences of his dad’s illegal scheme? Why not attempt to investigate what his father did himself? And why do these kids care so much about saving the school? If they have the moral flexibility to steal in the first place, they could, after all, keep the cash for themselves.
The story climaxes with a solid musical number, but with little to convince and the potentially exciting heist taking up a disappointingly small amount of the film’s slow runtime, Coin Heist feels like a missed opportunity – less a treasure trove of teen entertainment and more a pile of spare change. “How did you know that would work?” asks one. Sadly, the movie doesn’t – if only the filmmakers saw a few more heist movies.
Coin Heist is available on Netflix UK, as part of an £9.99 monthly subscription.