The amazing parade of true crime content continues as Netflix adds a heist flick to its flotilla of serial killers and murder mysteries. The new docu-series, This Is A Robbery, follows the incredible true story of the 1990 burglary that relieved Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum of 13 priceless works of art – many, like the Storm of the Sea of Galilee by Rembrandt, masterpieces. To this day, it remains history’s biggest art heist – and a total mystery.
Thirty-one years after the caper, no suspects have been arrested and none of the stolen art pieces have been returned, yet the series hopes to change that by jumpstarting the conversation in the era of internet sleuths and data-sharing – and who knows, with the help of the Netflix bump, they might just have a shot.
Boston natives (and brothers) Colin and Nick Barnicle became obsessed with the local legend back in 2014 and spent the past seven years digging through evidence and interviewing the detectives, museum personnel, and eyewitnesses involved. The result is a four-part ode to the Gardner Museum while charting the “art collecting” of Boston’s criminal underground and the missteps of investigators as they fail to lockdown a suspect.
Like so many great documentaries these days, the series lays out the details in easy-to-digest nuggets while recreating the fateful night with dark, vibe-laden reenactments. But how does it compare to the greatest heist movie of all time co-starring, Bernie Mac? Place your bets as This Is A Robbery goes head-to-head with Ocean’s Eleven.
While we’ve technically reached a stalemate, bringing in Matt Damon to tie this baby up is a little unfair. But hey, life’s unfair. Just look at these two heist movies. If you like mysteries, mobsters, fine art, and creepy photos of dudes in duct tape masks, This Is A Robbery is your dream flick. If you prefer Brad Pitt snacking, acid-jazz-pop, and a contrived plot that’s as smooth as a polyester collar, Ocean’s Eleven all the way. Just don’t get any ideas – a man was hospitalized in 2019 after attempting to rob the Bellagio, so leave the heisting to the professionals.
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