What Are the Best TV and Movie Scenes Set in Vaults?

The idea of filming scenes inside a vault might sound strange at first, as the limited space and lack of outside views make it seem like an extremely restrictive location. However, clever writing and great acting have combined to create some memorable vault scenes over the years.

Money Heist

This Spanish show (La Casa De Papel) was released on Netflix at the end of 2017 to immediate acclaim. The original series is based on the intriguing idea of a group of robbers carrying out a daring and carefully planned raid on the Spanish Royal Mint. While they’re locked inside the Mint for virtually the entire first series, there are some particularly exciting moments when they enter the cash-filled vault. The third season uses an underground gold vault that floods with water when anyone touches the door, which is based on a real Bank of Spain vault.

The idea of what it’s like inside a bank vault has filtered into other areas of entertainment, with the Gold Vault Roulette game part of a range of ways of playing roulette online. This game features a live-streamed human dealer sitting inside a studio designed to look like the interior of a vault. Gold bars are randomly allocated to numbers and act as multipliers to increase any win on those numbers.

Mission: Impossible

What if you prefer movies to TV series? The first Mission: Impossible movie from 1996 features the iconic scene where Tom Cruise is lowered on cables into a vault. It’s not a bank he’s breaking into but rather the CIA headquarters where his character, Ethan Hunt, has to hack a computer terminal without touching the floor or even letting a bead of sweat hit it.

The section where the team lose control of the cable and Cruise goes crashing down and almost touches the floor was incredibly difficult to film. The actor explained in an interview that he was genuinely struggling to keep his balance and avoid hitting the floor as they carried out various takes. He finally used some coins to help him ensure that he was level and film the scene that became the movie’s defining moment.

Ocean’s 11

This 2001 movie used a casino’s vault as the setting for a hugely complex heist that forms the centrepiece of the action. Starring George Clooney and Brad Pitt among the gang members and Andy Garcia as the casino owner, the heist appears to end with the SWAT team finding an empty vault.

However, the big plot twist is that the footage of the heist was manipulated and the team left with the cash, disguised as SWAT team members. Fans have long discussed whether the plot is unnecessarily complex and whether their plan could have even worked, but there’s no denying that the vault scenes are the most exciting part of the movie.

All these examples combine complex plot twists with lots of action. That’s the benefit of filming a high-tension vault scene, while Money Heist used the long period the gang spent in the vault to create opportunities for character development as well.