Title – Den of Thieves (2018)
Director – Christian Gudegast (feature debut)
Cast – Gerard Butler, Pablo Schreiber, O’Shea Jackson Jr, 50 Cent, Evan Jones
Plot – After a violent robbery takes place in LA, sheriff “Big Nick” O’Brien (Butler) sets out to enact justice upon the gang that committed the crime and stop them before they are able to pull off their next daring heist.
“People with things to hide never have much to say”
Review by Eddie on 30/05/2018
So it turns out all those people calling out Den of Thieves as a Heat-lite heist thriller are entirely correct, as Christian Gudegast’s film riffs liberally from Michael Mann’s 90’s classic in its quest to become the newest king of the heist/crime epic.
Set in the sun-bleached surrounds of Los Angeles, Thieves starts off with a bang as our crime gang led by Pablo Schreiber’s Ray Merrimen pull off a dangerous robbery outside a donut shop in the early hours of the morning, as Gudegast’s film sets in motion a game of cat and mouse between Merrimen’s crew and Gerard Butlers detective “Big Nick” O’Brien, yet while Thieves contains some genuinely thrilling and nerve wracking moments, this 140 minute behemoth can barely dare to be mentioned alongside Heat as its fails outside of its action ticks to create any type of genuine tension or character connections in an overstuffed narrative that pans out exactly as you’d expect it to.
Gudegast tries hard to set-up Merrimen as the De Niro of Thieves and Butler as the Pacino but these characters are both highly uninteresting with Merrimen nothing more than an ex-army type turned bad while Butler is sadly a shadow of his former self as the loathsome “Big Nick”, an unfit, sweaty and insufferable anti-hero who sulks when his strip club visiting ways and boozy behaviour force his wife and children to leave him.
From the top down Thieves struggles to make the crew of crooks and cops work to its advantage with the likes of 50 Cent and O’Shea Jackson Jr rounding out a cast with recognisable faces, not so much sure-fire talent, who all struggle to build much into their characters, making the stakes in the film irrelevant as the “big heist” is planned around Nick and his colleagues bearing down on Merrimen’s gang.
It’s a shame this is the case as Thieves isn’t completely redundant of thrills and when the film’s final, much too late end segments begin Gudegast’s film offers some relatively unbelievable yet enjoyable moments that showcases the film did indeed have an opportunity to be more than it is as a final product.
Final Say –
Den of Thieves looks good, has a moody score from the ever reliable Cliff Martinez and bares moments of well attuned action and thrills but as a whole this wannabe gritty thriller finds itself lacking in the departments that matter most; investment and engagement and with another cringe-worthy Gerard Butler performance at its forefront, Den of Thieves never really stood a chance up against the kingpins of the heist thriller sub-genre.
2 Chinese food deliveries out of 5