‘Heist 88’ Ending Explained & Film Summary: Is It Based On A True Story?


Starring Courtney B. Vance as the swindler Jeremy Horne, Heist 88 takes us to 1988 Chicago, when corporations transferred huge sums of money through the bank using a transaction code that was confirmed over phone calls. Taking advantage of this gap in the banking system was Horne, a convicted criminal with a police tracking device fixed to his ankle. Wayne County Corrections Department repeatedly called him after he agreed to surrender himself in twenty-one days for bank fraud. He created a shell company, BreezeAir Private Airlines, to commit the fraud. Jeremy intended on pulling off another bank heist before being locked up in prison, and he saw hope in his nephew, Marshall.

Spoiler Alert

How Did Jeremy Horne Persuade Marshall And His Friends To Participate In The Heist?

Marshall made music, and he borrowed money for it. The moneylenders were all over him after he failed to return the cash on time. Marshall met his uncle Jeremy during the memorial service for his father. Even though his father had asked him to stay away from the man, Marshall believed that only his uncle could solve his problem. Marshall explained how his friends working at the bank tried to pull favors to grant him a loan, but it did not work. Marshall was knee-deep in financial trouble, and he hoped his uncle could somehow save him. The moment Jeremy found out that Marshall’s friends worked at the First National Bank of Chicago, he started to plot his next heist.

Jeremy met Marshall and his friends—Rick, LaDonna, and Danny—at the local diner. They felt a little uneasy when Jeremy repeatedly asked for details about their jobs. They could sense that the man was shady, and they left soon after finishing dinner. It was not every day that Rick and Danny saw a black man wearing a Rolex watch, and when they did, they were intrigued. After closely watching the lives of Rick, LaDonna, and Danny, Jeremy was confident that the group of youngsters would agree to his plan. All of them were financially struggling, and they would not let go of the opportunity to earn millions. He invited Marshall and his friends to a secured location and discussed his plan. He offered each one of them 500 dollars simply for attending the meeting.

Jeremy explained that the wealth he created for himself came from fooling the banks. He was certain that they could take advantage of the inefficiency of the bank. Jeremy repeatedly told them that Black people were always at a disadvantage and that there was no point in being loyal to an institute that did not care about the welfare of Black employees. According to him, it was payback time. LaDonna worked in the transfer department and had access to the transfer code. After the code was added to the system, Jeremy planned on connecting the call to either Rick or Danny to make the second confirmation. LaDonna was not ready to turn into a robber and lose her job and life for something that might as well not work. But Jeremy lured her back with a Rolex. Marshall and his friends were impressed when they saw Jeremy handle two robbers pointing their guns at him. He was not new to the world of crime, and they thought that maybe his plan could be successful.

What Problems Did The Heist Team Face?

After meeting Jeremy Horne, LaDonna and Danny were convinced that whatever the man said could very well be true. The system had failed them. Even after being honest in their job, they were still paid the minimum wage, and they never got promoted. The heist was their way of fighting systematic racism. They all agreed to Jeremy’s plan. LaDonna soon learned that the entire banking system at First Chicago would be computerized within thirty days; therefore, they must act immediately. Also, they needed printouts of the current balances of the companies they planned to transfer the money to. To do so, a key card from a higher authority was required. Jeremy contacted his old friends, Buddha Ray and Bree Barnes. They worked with him to execute the previous fraud plan, and after it failed, they lost their trust in him. But Jeremy was persistent, and he wanted to return a percentage of the money that he owed to his friends after risking them.

Buddha, Bree, and Jeremy entered the bank pretending to be independent auditors. Jeremy managed to grab hold of three key cards and, using his, entered the room where the physical copies of the balance sheets were kept. He took the printouts of the current balance sheet and left the building. With the balance sheet in hand, all that needed to be done was execute the heist. Just before the heist, Rick was offered the opportunity to work as a market maker trainee by John, who worked at the Board of Trade and was the husband of Rick’s boss, Harriet. Rick always wanted to work in trading, and the offer was a dream come true. He decided to abandon the heist plan and accept the position, but Jeremy managed to convince him that, as a black person, he would never have it easy and would end up regretting not grabbing hold of millions of dollars. Jeremy stated that he, as a brilliant financier and an honest employee who was best at his job, never received any opportunity because of his identity, and that was why he was forced to choose illegal means to get what he wanted. After a few initial hiccups, it was finally the day of the heist.

Was The Heist Successful?

Danny and LaDonna were at the office, while Marshall waited by his car to pick up his friends after the transfer was done, and Rick was on the phone, eagerly waiting by the side of his phone to receive the second confirmation call and repeat the transaction code. Using Pager, the transaction code was sent to everyone in the group. Jeremy called the bank using a public phone booth and pretended to be the company head of the three target companies with First Chicago bank accounts. Using the transaction code, he initiated the transfer, and the second confirmation call was directed to Rick, who repeated the code, and the money was transferred to the account of a faux company.

LaDonna, Danny, and Rick hopped in Marshall’s car after completing their tasks and waited in a hotel room for Jeremy to confirm whether the heist was a success or not. It took Jeremy hours to meet the gang, but when he did, he had good news. He managed to transfer the money from the shell company’s account to his Geneva account, and he had passports and tickets for everyone to escape before the world figured out that a robbery had occurred. As they were seated at the airport, they knew that their chances of returning to the States were negligible. Danny was a lot more emotional than the rest; after all, he left his pregnant wife at home. Before boarding the flight, Jeremy noticed that Danny was on call, and soon, police swarmed at the airport. Danny was not talking to his wife like he had said; instead, he was in contact with the FBI.

During Heist 88‘s ending, we get to know that Danny made a deal with the FBI from the moment he found out about the heist. He, too, was frustrated with the way Black employees were treated at the bank, but he was not ready to commit a robbery to express his frustration. He wanted a pay hike and a guarantee that he and his friends would be left free after Jeremy Horne was arrested. We do not know whether or not the promise made by the FBI was kept, but Jeremy Horne had to face trial, and he admitted that his only mistake was getting caught. While it is easy to be lured by a man such as Jeremy Horne, Danny represents those who uphold integrity and moral values over greed.

Is The Film Based On A True Story?

Heist 88 is loosely based on the bank fraud committed by Armand Moore. Moore could convince citizens with no criminal record to participate in his grand scheme. He was known for flaunting his Rolex watches and Rolls-Royce. In Chicago back in 1988, he was almost successful in pulling off the heist. While the Showtime film takes inspiration from the case of Armand Moore, it is not completely based on his life. While Jeremy Horne is a fraudster, he is convinced that the work he is doing is for his community.

The ending of Heist 88 is starkly different from the real incident. Moore and his team, involving low-level bank employees, had successfully transferred money from the Chicago Bank to three accounts in two Austrian institutions. Armand Moore and his team were caught when they started to spend the money they robbed to buy luxury cars and goods. Moore was sentenced to ten years in federal prison, but he received an additional 25-year sentence when he attempted to escape from prison to plan another grand heist. After spending thirty years behind bars, Moore continues to indulge in a lavish lifestyle.

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Srijoni Rudra
Srijoni Rudra
Srijoni has worked as a film researcher on a government-sponsored project and is currently employed as a film studies teacher at a private institute. She holds a Master of Arts degree in Film Studies. Film History and feminist reading of cinema are her areas of interest.

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