Review: Den of Thieves

Den of Thieves
4 10

PLOT: A hard-edged L.A cop(Gerard Butler) becomes hell-bent on taking down an elite crew of bank-robbers, led by the elusive Merrimen (Pablo Schreiber), a former special ops soldier-turned-criminal. All the while, the group’s young getaway driver (O’Shea Jackson Jr.) finds himself in way over his head when the crew opts to take down the Federal Reserve.

REVIEW: Clearly, writer-director Christian Gudegast has seen HEAT, with this being as close to a rip-off of Michael Mann’s movie as you can get without being sued. From the L.A setting, to the impeccably planned and executed heist to the large scale gunfights and juxtaposition of the family unit of burglars against the torn-up cops, DEN OF THIEVES is almost beat-by-beat -a HEAT clone. What makes it even more shameless is how it’s filtered in a completely ridiculous, ultra wannabe macho perspective that’s trying to be cool but winds-up anything but.

Running a punishing 140 minutes (you’ll feel every second), this reeks of ego, with Gerard Butler on board as the producer and his LONDON HAS FALLEN writer, Gudegast, behind the camera. It’s as if Butler and 50 Cent were watching HEAT on cable one night and decided to remake it with them in the place of Al Pacino and Robert De Niro. In the process, the whole thing is dumbed down to a ludicrous degree, and shot up with as much testosterone as they could muster, with Butler wearing a scraggly beard and covering himself with ink.

Butler can be a fun action hero, but he’s not a compelling lead for a crime saga, with him embodying a toxic kind of macho vibe that, I suspect, Gudegast and Butler wants us to think is cool, but makes him the single most unlikable lead character the star has ever played. One has to wonder what Butler was thinking, because his action fans will hate how light on actual action this is, while the female audience that sees him as a sex symbol will be gobsmacked by the atrocious misogyny on display, with virtually every female character other than his on-screen wife (who’s presented as an unfaithful ball-breaker) being a stripper, prostitute or both.

The rest of the cast fares slightly better, with Pablo Schreiber, newly massive as the ex-military man, doing his best to give Merrimen some depth, although he can’t win with a screenplay that saddles him with endless speeches about “family” that even Vin Diesel would probably think was overboard. As for 50 Cent, you gotta give the guy credit - he tries and there’s nothing at all wrong with his performance, it’s just the recycled material that sucks.

The movie almost comes to life when the focus shifts from Butler to STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON’s O’Shea Jackson, as the only really likable character in the film. Had they done an eleventh hour recut to shift the focus to him (in the process cutting out an easy forty minutes of footage), this might have made for an OK B-movie.

All that said, Gudegast shows some promise when it comes to staging action, with the opening armoured car heist not badly done, and an ok climatic gunfight that ain’t HEAT (no matter how hard it tries to be) but is fairly well-staged. The real culprit here is the horrible script, and the horrible indulgence of it all. This is a vanity project through and through - and something that would have been better off left unmade.

Source: JoBlo.com



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