In the heist itself, time overlaps, and actions that have already been shown are repeated from another characters point-of-view. The audience is left to pout the pieces together so that we see a character do something and then se how it helps the next action lead to the desired conclusion.
At the racetrack, with the announcement of the start of the fifth race, the film cuts to Johnny, in the words of the voice-over narrator “beginning what might be the last day of his life.” Such a voice on the soundtrack emphasizes again the uncertainty of the course of action being taken by these criminals, contributes to the suspense, but also keeps a sense of doom in the film, as if the ending were already known by Fate. From this point until the end of the robbery, the pace of the film speeds up as the camera cuts from one completed action to the next, playing out the well-thought-through plan. And shifting the point-of-view among the main characters until they are all in place for the robbery itself. The film finally focuses on Johnny, who is the only person to actually carry out the robbery and gather up the money. There is no conversation during this sequence aside from a few barked orders from Johnny and commentary by the voice-over narrator, a seemingly objective outside voice suggesting that some greater power is watching over all that takes place and that there will be an accounting at some point. Of course, the audience knows more than the conspirators know because the viewers are aware of the other gang and its plan to take the money away, summoned to this task by the disloyal wife of one of the conspirators. During the robbery, the mise-en-scene is sparse, as it is throughout the film, keeping tight control of the camera and its movements and focusing only on what the filmmaker wants the audience to see and consider. Such a tight use of the camera also contributes to the suspense, for the viewer never knows if there is something just off camera that may intrude and spoil the heist.
The camera takes fast wide angle, medium shots, giving a sense of the locations, then cutting swiftly from one action to the next. The use of the flashback device in the robbery sequence itself, and the change of pace, very cleverly draws the audience into the action, and such direct involvement of the audience in the working out of the plan also creates sympathy for the criminals, as if the audience were helping in the robbery.
Indeed, the audience is present throughout, waiting in the bar as Johnny arrives and checks out his team to make sure they are all in place, then going with him when the pre-arranged fight breaks out to create a distraction and draw away the security guards, then through the door with Johnny as he enters the cashiers office. The audience is right with him as he bursts into the strong room brandishing his shotgun, and the audience is now an accomplice as he takes the bag of money and throws it out the window.
He kills no one and hurts no one, and neither do any of the rest of his team (with the exception of the man who kills the horse). Once the robbery is compete the pace slows as the camera leave the gang and shifts to the other gang waiting for the money to arrive. In no way is the audience made to feel part of this separate plot, nor could it be since all audience sympathy is with the central characters, in part based on the professional way they have acted and the way they have avoided hurting anyone.
The Killing is typical of the noir genre in ways other than its characters, notably in the use of interior settings with low key or single-source lighting, with a stark atmosphere maintained throughout, with a central cast of known character types, and with a sense of impending doom from the first. When the end does come, even the main character sees it as the only possible conclusion to which all has been tending, and he simply gives up, surrendering.