Looking for a new movie to curl up and watch? Consider “Heist 88,” inspired by the 1988 scheme to rob the First National Bank of Chicago.
After reporting on the story as a journalist, Dwayne Johnson Cochran wrote and produced the film 35 years later with star Courtney B. Vance. He sat down with City Cast Chicago lead producer Simone Alicea.
How was the story being covered at the time?
“These very intelligent people — who happened to be Black — were able to take almost $70 million from the bank through a system that was not secure. … When I think about the great heist stories of 'The Thomas Crown Affair,' these are all European people doing really funny, interesting things. But when it comes down to Black folks, we never really see it done in a sophisticated way, and I wanted to do [this film] because of that.”
How did you incorporate Chicago politics into the film?
“I remember when Harold Washington passed and how the city went into disarray about the succession. Did he die from a heart attack? Or was he poisoned? Or is he really dead? … Even Jeremy Horne (the mastermind character) feels that he is a person who can maybe fulfill the dreams these young people had because Harold Washington was trying to fulfill some dreams in Chicago.”
How do you respond to some of the negative reviews?
“[Some critics] thought it would be more bang bang and cars running around, people being shot and killed. … This was a heist story about code shifting, where these young people were told to act like other people, the bank and corporate executives. … That is, to me, a very sophisticated way to look at how to steal money in a heist story. And that was what I was really going after.”
“Heist 88” writer and producer Dwayne Johnson Cochran. (Jenny Pont, Pontact Productions, EPZ Ltd.)