Reformed bank robber breaks down 11 bank heist scenes in movies for realism

Ju Shardlow,David Ibekwe
·17 min read
  • Former robber Cain Vincent Dyer looks at 11 bank-robbery clips from popular TV shows and movies.

  • He breaks down the realism of "Heat" (1995), "Money Heist" (2019), and "The Town" (2010).

  • Dyer now works as a motivational speaker, helping newly released prisoners reintegrate into society.

  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

Following is a transcript of the video.

Cain Vincent Dyer: This scene here is very high-tech. [laughs] There are guys in the military, certain groups around the world that can absolutely do this.

Hi, I'm Cain Vincent Dyer. I committed over 100 bank robberies in a period of almost two years. After turning myself in, I decided to form a coaching company that helps people transform their lives. And today we are going to be judging the authenticity of bank-robbery scenes in some of our favorite movies.

"The Place Beyond the Pines" (2012)

He has on this helmet, so he doesn't need a mask. He doesn't look like he'd be coming in to rob, necessarily. It looks like he just kept his helmet on, which guys do all the time.

I can really, really relate to this, him wearing that backpack. I would sometimes either wear a backpack or a duffel bag strapped around the front, and you can still have the control of your hands. That's the only drawback -- if you get any kind of tracker or dye pack, you walk off, and that dye pack explodes, he's wearing it on his chest.

Luke: F--k.

Cain Vincent Dyer: This is so real. It typically happens your first time or two. Bank robbery is bad enough, so, just to put that out there. What we know from watching the movie is he's in a really desperate situation. Sometimes the desperation kind of overrides the moral compass. It's very accurate. It takes a second for him to pump himself up.

Luke: You! Get up!

Cain Vincent Dyer: He has tape. He doesn't want those gloves coming off. So obviously he's really conscious of not leaving any type of fingerprints. Also, it's holding his sleeve to the jacket down, which could be covering up some type of tattoo. Interesting that he picked a bank with glass. Because of the glass, he's got to throw it over to them, and, you know, they could put any kind of device in that bag. It almost shows more so the desperation, that he went into this bank that is secure, with glass and everything like that, but he was still so desperate that it didn't stop him.

[motorcycle engine sputtering]

Luke: Son of a --

Cain Vincent Dyer: Him having a problem with his motorcycle is something -- sure, it's happened.

[police sirens blaring]

[tires squealing]

They just blow through that red light with all those cars coming. I don't think a intelligent police officer would do that, just because you're putting a lot more people at risk.

I would actually rate this a 9. Going into the bank, leading up to the bank, preparing, getting nervous -- everything he did, even the mistakes he made inside, were actual mistakes that if you haven't done it, you would probably make.

Rating: 9/10

"The Dark Knight" (2008)

This vault that looks like no one could ever get in except for probably the US military. We have to keep in mind that, this movie, everything about this movie is supposed to be over the top. Yes, they do have very intricate lock safes and things like that, timed lock safes, things that are really hard to get into. But a lot of time, during business hours, they will keep certain safes open just so the employees can have access. I learned everything. So, at every bank I went into, I knew whether it was going to have a safe such as the one that's in this scene or if it was going to be, say, regular open doors. And if it were like this, I would pass. [laughs] Unless I found in one of their manuals or knew that they would keep this door open between certain times.

Could I get into that? Back then, where things were more manual, oh, yeah. I mean, it would've taken a considerable amount of time to break into that. That's not, like, a three- or four-minute deal.

[gunshot]

[cocks gun]

You wouldn't have a weapon in there like that, unless you have a security guard that was armed. You gotta keep in mind, if you shoot that shotgun and he hits that bank-robbery suspect, those rounds are probably exiting the perpetrator and going straight into the bank customer or the bank employee.

Robber: What bus driver?

[windows shatter]

Cain Vincent Dyer: That school bus doesn't have any damage on it, and it just crashed through a cement and stone building. And, if you remember, it had to go up the steps, because when they robbed the building they went up the steps, and that -- like, totally Hollywood, right? Definitely a 1. [chuckles]

Rating: 1/10

"Heat" (1995)

The camera's already got them on video, so why even use a mask at that point? Either they should've gotten out of the car, gone straight in with the mask on, or not used anything.

Robber: Stay down! We want to hurt no one. The energy is so on point. How they talk, how they walk, how they move. Even the customers, just the fear that's there. Cellophane money. The money's still wrapped. This is how a lot of banks will keep the money when it comes in. Because they're still coming from, you know, basically the factory.

Robber: Down! Down.

Detective: Far East National Bank, 11:30!

Cain Vincent Dyer: The silent alarm is actually going off as they're leaving, which is what employees are actually trained to do. It's less chance of the cops getting there and them having a hostage situation. The police are being alerted as the bank robbers are leaving, which is super accurate.

I would actually give it about a 7. The energy is so accurate for the bank robbers, for that team. You can feel the desperation that it needs to get done.

Rating: 7/10

"The Town" (2010)

Robber: Move, move, move! All right, back it away from the counter!

Cain Vincent Dyer: They know exactly what they're doing. You can tell by the way they move, where they go; they know the layout of this place.

Robber: Up against the wall! You! Away from the computer!

Cain Vincent Dyer: Bank robberies that are done by a lot of different gangs, this is how they go in, and this is how they operate. Just with brute force and sheer fear.

Robber: When's the time lock set for?

Employee: 9 o'clock.

Robber: Don't lie to us. It's 8:15.

Cain Vincent Dyer: He asked her something very specific about the bank which he already knew. I would ask a bank employee a question just because I knew the answer, and I wanted to see if they were gonna be straight with me or not. I wanted to see if they were gonna be nervous, how they were gonna respond to the question I was asking. He just wanted to see if she was gonna cooperate.

Robber: Hold it! Silent alarm, this address. You pull the alarm? No! No!

Cain Vincent Dyer: A lot of people believe that everyone in a bank, you know, all employees have silent alarms. That's not accurate. There's very specific people that have the silent alarms that are allowed to push it.

Robber: Bleaching up! Come on, let's go, we don't have time.

Cain Vincent Dyer: Bleaching is something I haven't seen done before. I know why he's doing it, to get rid of all type of evidence. You know, once you put bleach on anything, everything just kind of dissipates. It's just interesting to me that they're doing that -- like, the gloves, they have on so much that covers them up.

I would say this movie is a 10. For the realistic way that these guys are just that aggressive. Unfortunately, you have a lot of guys who go in, and that's how they do it.

Rating: 10/10

"Cherry" (2021)

Pills & Coke: He's gonna kill us all. Unless... you can give me a giant f---ing s---wad of cash.

Cherry: I have a plan.

Cain Vincent Dyer: I didn't start robbing banks just because I wanted money. I started robbing banks out of desperation, in order to pay off a debt that a very dear relative to me had incurred to a criminal organization.

When people do a solo robbery and they're trying not to be seen, this is exactly how they would approach it. They would hand the teller a note. They would probably smile at people in line. We can say he makes the mistake of showing his face, but most guys that go in solo like that, they often do that, and they hit these smaller banks, and they just hope that the banks don't really link up and they won't get that much attention. But they will go in and show their actual faces.

You know, someone's like, "Why is she moving that slow?" She's probably still processing. What they are trained to do is try to give you money that has some kind of detector in it, some kind of tracer or dye pack. And we see the stack. That stack looks a lot bigger and looks like something he should take. It could be what they call the "bait money." A stack that bank employees have put to the side, and with those are the bait money, dye packs, tracers.

Here we see him being captured on video. So, when I did all of my bank robberies, it was in the end of '99, going into 2000. And you didn't have cameras that were as high-quality as they have now. So these old cameras used to be really grainy, so they would have a lot of them, but it's very common to have the cameras coming in. There are even things along doors that will allow a witness to gather even how tall you are, and you'll see it in a lot of stores or banks. And when someone passes it, the employees are trained to look where he lines up on that.

Absolutely a 10. Absolutely a 10.

Rating: 10/10

"Out of Sight" (1998)

Jack: But you see the man with the briefcase?

Teller: Yes.

Jack: That's my partner. He has a gun in there. And if you don't do exactly what I tell you or if you give me any kind of a problem at all, I'm gonna look over at my partner, and he's gonna shoot your Mr. Gwendon between the eyes.

Cain Vincent Dyer: I have done that. I have gone into a bank and immediately given instructions. I've looked back at the door from which I came in and told an imaginary accomplice there to make sure everyone keeps their head down -- not lay down or hands in the air, but they keep their head down, like, just their eyes focused on the ground -- and there was never anyone there.

Jack: Take one of those big envelopes and put as many 100s, 50s, and 20s as you can pack into it.

Cain Vincent Dyer: He's disarming her fear. Literally, you know? So it's not bringing any attention to them. That method is a very, very common method. I would say things like that. Even if I yell louder at everyone else, I would tell the person that I was trying to get to do whatever I'm trying to get them to do, I would be much more calm with them, versus screaming at them. The rating I'm gonna give this picture is a 10. You know, you would think he wouldn't just go into a bank like that, but people will do things like that, especially if it's a smaller bank and they think that the news isn't gonna travel.

Rating: 10/10

"Den of Thieves" (2018)

Police radio: All available units, we have a bank 211 in progress

Nick: S--t.

-at the Pico Rivera Savings in --

[police sirens blaring]

Nick: Stop!

Cain Vincent Dyer: That is super accurate, where they're trying to back down other law enforcement. The FBI agent that was assigned to my case, Patrick Conley, he changed how they went after bank robbers. And a lot of times they would just wait for bank robbers to get caught in the, you know, after the fact. And they'd get caught doing something else, and someone tells on someone.

Nick: We've been surveilling these guys for weeks! That's what surveillance is! They commit a crime, and then we stop them!

Cain Vincent Dyer: The police aren't working together. In my case that happened a lot too, because other officers weren't giving Special Agent Patrick Conley the information he needed, or they just weren't used to chasing down actual bank robbers. Anytime he heard something come up, he was always there. Once that silent alarm was hit, he'd also go.

[police sirens blaring]

[tires screeching]

I have never been in that situation, where I have been inside and the cops have shown up, but I have been in the situation where, as I'm driving away, all the cops are coming into it. The moment I saw all the cops, I rolled all the windows down and turned my music on and started singing.

I'm gonna give it a 7, because today, you know, I think law enforcement has learned a lot by not communicating with each other.

Rating: 7/10

"Money Heist" S3E3 (2019)

This scene here is very high-tech.

[laughs]

This isn't a normal bank robbery, right? There are guys in the military and certain groups around the world that could absolutely do this. Now, a typical bank robbery, you're working within a certain construct of time. And trying to get in a vault like that, even if you have the skill set to get into it, it would probably take you as long to get in that vault as the sentence you would get for getting into it.

I have gone into banks that have safe locks in vaults and time-lock vaults and stuff like that. But there is a bank in Spain that operates in this way, where if certain parts of it are triggered, it will flood the actual safe which holds all the gold.

I'll give it a 10 for entertainment, but I'm gonna give it a 1 on the skill set that anyone would have to go do that.

Rating: 1/10

"Dog Day Afternoon" (1975)

I've been waiting to go into a bank and I've seen a pregnant lady or an elderly person go in, and it's made me either pause or wait, because I didn't want to -- you know, like I said, a lot of people, when they do this, they're not thinking that they're hurting the individual, they're just taking the money. You're putting a lot of psychological damage and trauma on someone. Sometimes you don't realize that in the moment.

Just the one, Sonny!

Sonny: Right!

Cain Vincent Dyer: This happened in 1972 in Brooklyn. Just a horrible situation when you have this hostage situation.

[emergency sirens wailing]

[tires screeching]

Right now he's in serious, serious denial. I haven't been in this situation, but I remember, even before I turned myself in, making the decision that I wanted to turn myself in. There was just so much back-and-forth with myself.

Sonny: They got me on kidnapping, armed robbery. They're gonna bury me, man!

[audience cheering]

Attica! Attica! Attica!

Cain Vincent Dyer: Basically, he's buying time. You're working off survival instinct here now, because he knows. He can't go anywhere, but now it's just about survival. I'm gonna give it a 10. And were there mistakes made in the bank? Absolutely. Were there things that a normal bank robber wouldn't do in the bank? Yes. But in this situation, all those mistakes played into him getting caught.

Rating: 10/10

"Baby Driver" (2017)

Robber: We have it, let's go!

Cain Vincent Dyer: A lot of bank robbers, especially their first time or something like that, out of desperation they will just take whatever they can put in, and I've heard about bank robbers going inside and forgetting to take anything to collect the money with, you know? Putting everything, trying to put everything in a T-shirt, you know?

Robber: I got this!

Cain Vincent Dyer: He wasn't prepared for that, which, it gave him pause, but then he had to jump back into his -- into that zone of getting them out of there. So I like that they kind of did that, where they give him this human quality, like, "Whoa! I didn't expect that." 'Cause he's just the driver.

Robber: Look out! Ah! What the?!

Cain Vincent Dyer: That's a situation that can definitely happen. The guy who's engaging them has a Marine Corps hat on and a Marine Corps decal on his car. And that was something that was always on my mind when going into a bank. You know, just wondering if there's gonna be another guy in there like me. He was a Marine, like myself. It happened to me, where I had a guy who was probably former military or something engage me, come at me, tell me to stop. And I followed the command. I know it sounds weird, but I followed the command, because it just wasn't worth physically harming someone, for me.

Just that scene there, that interaction, I would give it another 7.

Rating: 7/10

"Inside Man" (2006)

We saw a lot of violence happening, and it's easy from the outside to say, "OK, that wouldn't happen," but, heck, that happens. I've been into banks where, during the day, you'd see working crews there, but I would think that this would be something where you'd have working crews like that at night. But if you had to have them during the day, I can see how that guy can be in there.

Robber: Easy... Everybody get down on the f---ing floor, now!

[patrons screaming]

Cain Vincent Dyer: I never used a team like that. Sometimes people will get a little violent, unfortunately. And a lot of guys probably think that's the way to instill fear, to get people to do what you tell them. But I'm kinda against that. Once again, we're looking at Hollywood; things would be much more secure than that. But a lot of old banks did just have the glass doors. Later on, in probably, like, the early 2000s, what happened is you started to see banks incorporate this double-door mechanism. What that was actually for is to trap bank robbers inside those first doors that they went out of. I don't know.

If a bunch of serious, trained guys were doing something like this, this is probably the way they would do it. So I will rate it another 7.

Rating: 7/10

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