Director: Christian Gudegast
Cast: Gerard Butler, Pablo Schreiber, O'Shea Jackson, Jr., Brian Van Holt, 50 Cent
Runtime: 2 hrs 20 mins
Rating: M18 (Coarse Language)
Released By: Golden Village Pictures
Official Website: https://www.facebook.com/denofthieves
Opening Day: 1 February 2018
Synopsis: DEN OF THIEVES is a gritty Los Angeles crime saga which follows the intersecting and often personally connected lives of an elite unit of the LA County Sheriff's Dept. and the state's most successful bank robbery crew as the outlaws plan a seemingly impossible heist on the Federal Reserve Bank of downtown Los Angeles.
Tales of good versus evil, cop-and-robbers never gets old over the years. That’s why we have Den of Thieves, a generic heist flick that stars a grizzled Gerald Butler and rapper Curtis ’50 Cent’ Jackson. Christian Gudegast who wrote Butler’s London Has Fallen, yet another generic action flick took on directing duties this time round and while it certainly is a commendable effort, it’s way too long, too convoluted and too loud to make an impression.
According to the opening scene of Den of Thieves, Los Angeles is the bank robbery capital thus it comes as no surprise we sees an armored bank van being robbed in front of a donut shop shortly after. You might be asking where’s our leading man, Gerald Butler? No worries, Butler’s cop character dubbed Big Nick appears after the long shoot out, popping out at the crime scene chomping on a dropped donut, dispensed instructions to his subordinates and had an argument with an FBI agent.
The brief scene established two things. One: Big Nick is a macho cop that looks equally bad as the crooks and secondly he is not one to follow proper policing procedures. Next, we are introduced to the leader of the robbers, Merrimen (Pablo Schreiber) and his loyal sidekick, Enson (50 Cent), likely the only two other memorable characters you will remember in this 140 minutes movie. Oh wait, there’s one more, a newly recruited getaway driver by the name of Donnie (O’ Shea Jackson Jr, son of Ice Cube) who is later on being asked to be a mole for Nick.
Gudegast certainly love to come up with an elaborate plan for the heist that all the twists and turns mentioned is a drag to follow through. In fact, the heist on the L.A. Federal Reserve branch looks more engaging on paper than the actual overly complicated execution. Given the amount of automatic weapons and gunfire on display prior, it’s a stark contrast to what actually took place. The final plan looks like it’s lifted out of a discarded Ocean’s Eleven sequel before nonsensically breaking into an ear-deafening crossfire on the streets.
It’s not just the problem of the heist that Gudegast is struggling. He tried his best attempts to build up some characterization to Big Nick and Enson, all the while forgetting that Merrimen even exist. We know that Big Nick is one big asshole, devoted to his work but not his wife, spending time with strippers and threatening the wife’s new beau. But wait, Big Nick is also a new age sensitive man that he also cries right after secretly meeting his younger daughter in school. Merrimen on the other hand together with Enson are ex-marines for whatever reason hell bent on committing robberies.
Den of Thieves could be a great companion heist movie to Michael Mann’s Heat. Ideally, Gerald Butler could be this decade answer to Al Pacino and Pablo Schreiber might even rivalled Robert De Niro’s master criminal character. However, Den of Thieves simply is too long and too little to showcase in the end. All it’s left is the insane overwhelming amount of facial hair, tattoos and machismo and a laughable twist you will ever remember.
(A big wasted opportunity to showcase a taut, exciting crime actioner)
Review by Linus Tee