If you’ve watched Gudegast and Butler’s previous collaboration, London Has Fallen, then you probably already know what to expect from their most recent crime caper: lots of guns, lots of explosions, and an exceptionally well-executed car chase at some point. And this is exactly what they deliver with Den of Thieves – plus a little bit more as well.
Let’s make no bones about this: Thieves is first and foremost an action film that preoccupies itself with the chase, rather than the heist itself. No time is wasted as the groundwork is laid for a Heat-esque crime thriller with an incredibly intense opening shootout, in turn paving the way for 140 minutes of rapid and somewhat intelligent storytelling.
What’s really interesting here is the ambiguous portrayal of our main characters – our cops are corrupt, our robbers are ex-military, and so as an audience it’s hard to decide where your allegiances should lie. Gerard Butler excels as the somewhat repugnant police chief “Big Nick”, losing his usual charismatic charm to opt for a grittier portrayal of justice. But the real star of the show has to be Pablo Schreiber’s robber, Ray Merrimen. Equal parts alluring and ruthless, Merrimen perhaps would have benefited from some further character development. While there are a lot of questions left unanswered, what we do have is a restrained and impactful performance that you just can’t look away from.
Admittedly, the film’s pacing is slightly off, and perhaps this is one that would have been better suited to television, rather than the big screen. But, incoherent plotting and crime-caper clichés aside, this is a surprisingly refreshing take on the genre, and one that surely won’t disappoint any die-hard Gerard Butler fans.
CAST: Gerard Butler, 50 Cent, Pablo Schreiber, O’Shea Jackson Jr.
DIRECTOR: Christian Gudegast
WRITERS: Christian Gudegast, Paul Scheuring
SYNOPSIS: A gritty crime saga which follows the lives of an elite unit of the LA County Sheriff’s Department and the state’s most successful bank robbery crew as the outlaws plan a seemingly impossible heist on the federal reserve bank.