A group of criminals with a plan find themselves in problem solving mode when everything goes wrong. That's the definition of most heist movies. The leads are charismatic, the side characters are quirky, and the plot often leads with a slow clap. That's how they did it, you say, and walk from the theater thinking if only you could be that cool. Dog Day Afternoon is what would happen if you actually did try a heist.
Al Pacino and his partners walk into a bank on an unimportant day. One of them has cold feet, so he leaves and Pacino and his friend John Cazale pull their guns and get the heist on the way. One mistake after another leads to a long day of sitting in a hot bank attempting to get away without too much of a hassle. With commentary on media that still sticks today, this bank robbery commits itself to showing just how bad a robbery can go when real people attempt to change their lives the easy way.
Pacino owns this movie. The majority of the film circles around his character attempting to not only keep it together, but not get everyone killed. For a movie star of his caliber then and now, to disappear into the disenfranchised role of an ex-military fuck up with a complicated home life is amazing. The same goes for everyone else in the cast, Chris Sarandon shining bright.
My prominent takeaway is the humor. I had always believed this to be a dark, uncompromising film of a bad day getting worse. While the dour nature of 1970s filmmaking is all over it, at times this movie is hilarious. From the comedy of errors that leads to the initial failing of the robbery to the interactions with the other people in the bank being fairly nonchalant about the whole thing most of the time, I found myself wishing I had seen this movie sooner.