In 1854 there are regular shipments of gold dispatched by train to pay the men fighting in the Crimean war. To make sure that the gold is safe it is placed in two large safes and the four keys required to unlock them are handed to different men. As no one had ever managed to rob a moving vehicle before the men of the bank are extremely confident that no one can steal it. For master thief, Edward Pierce (Sean Connery), the haul of gold combined with an impossible job is extremely tempting which sees him put together a team including his mistress Miriam (Lesley-Anne Down), pickpocket Robert Agar (Donald Sutherland) and clean Willy (Wayne Sleep). But the first job for Pierce and his men is to get their hands on the keys, which is easier said than done.
What is it which is so appealing watching say Danny Ocean and his team pull of a heist in one of the Ocean's movies, or how about Ethan Hunt sneaking in to a building in one of those Mission: Impossible movies? It isn't just the seemingly impossible nature of the jobs they set about pulling off or the ingenuity in which they go about their business but their persona. It is part of what makes "The Great Train Robbery" an entertaining heist movie as Sean Connery has that charisma and personality which makes him an entertaining master thief who has that air of confidence about him which is likeable and amusing especially with the way he can say things in that slightly cheeky manner.
But it isn't just Sean Connery who makes "The Great Train Robbery" as both Donald Sutherland and Lesley-Anne Down also bring some thing playful to their roles which makes for some fun interactions. But the fun also comes from the creativity of watching these thieves going about getting their hands on the keys they need before even thinking about how to deal with a moving target. As such whilst most of the movie is filled with humorous interactions the set pieces such as a set up with a pickpocket urchin at a train station is brilliant. It means that the movie constantly flits from the humour of devising the plan and then the action and adventure of pulling it off
What this all boils down to is that "The Great Train Robbery" is an entertaining heist movie with a playful nature, entertaining characters and amusing set pieces. It is simply a classic heist movie but one set in the Victorian era which it is worth mentioning has some great sets.