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Review: King of Thieves

King of Thieves
4 10

PLOT: An elderly widower (Michael Caine), who was a top-notch thief in his younger days, reassembles the old gang to knock over a safe deposit bank over a holiday weekend.

REVIEW: KING OF THIEVES should have been a major release. After all, it assembles a who’s who of British legends in a retelling of an infamous crime (the Hatton Garden safe deposit burglary of 2015) produced by the classy Working Title and directed by James Marsh, it being his follow-up to THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING. Why then is it getting such a scant release in North America, especially after racking up decent coin in the UK this fall? I get that the robbery itself isn’t as infamous on this shore, but the cast alone should have merited a studio pickup, right?

The fact is KING OF THIEVES, despite the A plus pedigree, isn’t any good. It boggles the mind, because this should have been a killer outing for Caine, not to mention co-stars Jim Broadbent, Ray Winstone, Michael Gambon & Tom Courtenay – all of them legends. What went wrong?

The main culprit here is the execution. All the elements are there, but Marsh seems utterly ill-equipped to tackle a smash-mouthed heist drama. He seems in awe of his cast, peppering the film with stylized stock footage from old British crime dramas to suggest the guys these fellas are playing are the last of a dying breed, but none of them really have anything to do. It’s as if the virtue of having these men play the old-guys is enough to make you care about them, but you really never do care if these guys get away with their ill-gotten gains. They’re just a bunch of thugs, which, again, would have been fine if someone with a real feel for the milieu had directed it. Marsh doesn’t seem to have that, and nothing rings true.

It doesn’t help that they adopt an audience-friendly, serio-comic vibe, with a wall-to-wall score by Benjamin Wallfisch that tries to fool us into thinking we’re watching an OCEANS’ outing, but Marsh doesn’t have the style of a guy like Soderbergh (or even Gary Ross – who did a decent Soderbergh impression in OCEAN’S 8). Caine is always fun to watch, but this is a role he could play in his sleep, being the jaded veteran who’s in it out of boredom after his wife dies.

Of them all, Tom Courtenay is the most fun as the most over-the-hill of the gang, who can barely stay awake, is mostly deaf, but also, bizarrely, the gang’s look-out. Him and Michael Gambon, as the dementia-addled fence chew scenery, but most don’t fare as well. Jim Broadbent for one feels too classy and grandfatherly to play a Cockney gangster (it’s against-type casting that doesn’t quite come off), while Ray WInstone seems bored in a role he’s played a hundred times before (at sixty, he’s also a good twenty-years younger than the older members- making him seem a bit young to play over-the-hill). Charlie Cox also tries to stretch as the awkward inside man, but it’s a dull role in a mostly dull movie.

In the end, KING OF THIEVES is probably watchable enough for devotees of the genre, but it lacks any sense of energy and never really comes together as what the poster seems to promise - the “EXPENDABLES” of old English gangsters. It’s slight and forgettable – and the fellas deserved better.

Source: JoBlo.com

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