Den of Thieves

Gerard Butler in a scene in Den of Thieves. (Times Media Films)
Gerard Butler in a scene in Den of Thieves. (Times Media Films)

What it's about:

Nick O'Brien is the hard-drinking leader of the Regulators, an elite unit of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. Ray Merrimen is the recently paroled leader of the Outlaws, a gang of ex-military men who use their expertise and tactical skills to evade the law. O'Brien, Merrimen and their crews soon find themselves on a direct collision course as the criminals hatch an elaborate plan for a seemingly impossible heist -- the city's Federal Reserve Bank.

What we thought:

There are some movies that I finish watching and the review flows out of me and writing it is the easiest thing in the world. There are others that are lukewarm, but I can see how they might have an audience, so I try and look for the proverbial silver lining. And then there’s my least favourite type of film, the kind that leaves me bored and watching the clock until the end credits roll. This indie action flick is in the last category.

Den of Thieves is the type of movie that has a lot of ambition but can’t seem to follow through on it. It has great ideas and references that I enjoyed but it left me more uninspired than intrigued for much of the time I was in the cinema. On the one hand, it tries to be a cop-driven drama and on the other, it tries to be a heist movie driven by the criminals, with the two sub-plots meeting each other half way like we’ve seen so so so many other times on screen. But because of a sometimes-flat script and editing that doesn’t quite pop, the climax is very unsatisfying.

Almost like when you bite into a pie and it has half the filling that you were were expecting, I was left wanting some more sustenance. 

On paper it looks like it should be the indie crime-drama that heist fans will love but it doesn’t quite live up to that idea. I think the best things about it – and what got me through most it -  were the performances by Pablo Schreiber as Ray Merrimen and O'Shea Jackson Jr as Donnie Wilson. They both endeared me to their complex characters with their nuanced acting and were the brightest lights in an otherwise dark flick. I think perhaps Gerard Butler as 'Big Nick' O'Brien was one of the weaker points of this action movie. I think Butler is more suited to his romantic drama work than this type of role because I didn’t find him very believable as a rotten cop and the one moment that was meant to endear me to his character made me cringe. 

Even though I am a big fan of both heist movies and crime dramas I am well aware that this film might just not have been to my taste because audiences have sent in mixed reviews about it on sites like Rotten Tomatoes while the critics have given it less than a passing grade. So maybe watch it and form your own opinion, but my one piece of advice would be that you should probably wait for it to come out on DVD. 

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