The first thing you need to know about making a quality movie is that it starts with the script.

If it’s a steaming heap on the page, a director, try as he might, is rarely able to contain the exuding stench with the shiny yet thin veneer of Hollywood wrapping paper known as hype. Of course, there is a simple quality control solution for a director: Write it yourself. And it’s even better for an audience if the writer/director is the Pulitzer Prize winning auteur David Mamet.

Mamet’s newest modern noir, “Heist,” has the muted monochromatic color scheme of its timeless predecessors. More crime than con game, an abundance of double-crossings and plot twists are still intact. So too is Mamet’s gift for dialogue, which on the surface makes his characters out to be plain-speaking, get-down-to-business professional criminals. But lurking behind every word are innuendoes spoken by chameleons of false fronts.

As a shipbuilder by day, Joe Moore (Gene Hackman) has it all: a pretty young wife, loyal friends and a side business he loves – crime. But he is getting a bit long in the tooth for this young man’s game. After getting his image “burnt” on a security camera during a jewel robbery, Moore decides to get out while the going is good. But before he can collect on his last job and head for points south on his 50-foot yawl, his fence Bergman (Danny DeVito) reneges on the money owed and threatens to rat him out. Bergman has his own plans for Joe and they don’t include a life of sipping margaritas on a tropical isle.

Forcing him to do one last big job, the robbery of a Swiss gold shipment, Bergman has a number of non-negotiable conditions, not the least of which is adding a young lieutenant to the roster of Joe’s crew. Joe can see this for what it is – a not so thinly veiled ploy to create havoc within the workings of the operation. Fortunately, his loyal partner Bobby (Delroy Lindo) and his utility man Pinky Pincus are there to help engineer the heist. This brilliantly orchestrated theft is a new standard against which all master plans should be gauged. So devoted to crafting the perfect crime, it’s a wonder he never quit the legitimate writer’s lifestyle to devote himself to taking scores. What a shame.

Who will get the gold in the end, the girl or the gun? Confusion is the mark, and true joy, of a Mamet caper film. Like his friend and collaborator Ricky Jay, he is a magician, a sleight-of-hand artist. And I don’t mean that in the sense of movie magic. Like his characters, he is adept at making things disappear, distracting you with the wave of a hand, while the other lifts an ace up the sleeve. Fortunately, the fun lies not so much in seeing it happen, but in figuring out how it was done – the walk to the car after seeing “Heist” will not be a silent one.