The Brink’s Job is a heist film and in almost all heist movies something has to go wrong. There has to be some element to the operation that trips up the plan and prevents the criminals from getting away scot-free. I won’t give away the hitch that unravels the heist in this film, but I will say that it is Friedkin’s inability to direct comedy that nearly spoils The Brink’s Job.
The first third of this film shows the struggles of Tony Pino, a small time Boston safe-cracker, played by Peter Falk. Pino’s trouble with safes and with the law are played for comedy. Most of the gag’s are prat falls, slapstick, and corny. Falk’s performance is a variation of his Columbo persona, but with a cartoonish Italian accent. Gena Rowlands is completely wasted as Pino’s girl, a devoted woman who turns a blind eye to her man’s business. Peter Boyle and Paul Sorvino are solid, but not stellar. It’s only Warren Oates who gets a chance to shine, but even in the one or two scenes where the film focuses on his character he’s never given the chance to deliver the sort of performance that has made Warren Oates a beloved cult figure.
When the film operates only as procedural action film or thriller it is at its best, but these moments are few and far between. With the first third of the film leans to heavily towards comedy and the final third of the film trying too hard to make commentary about criminals as pop-culture icons, the middle of the film, where the heist is planned and executed is left raise the picture from ho-hum to slightly above average. In total, The Brink’s Job delivers a good deal of entertainment. It’s just when you look at all the elements in the equation it feels like it should add up to far more that just a good film.