Review: Den of Thieves

Director: Christian Gudegast

Writer: Christian Gudegast

Starring: Gerard Butler, Pablo Schreiber, O’Shea Jackson Jr. and Curtis ’50 Cent’ Jackson

Release Date: 2nd February

Den of Thieves is your typical cop film about bank robbers planning the heist to end all heists. Nick O’Brien (Butler) leads an elite unit of the LA County Sheriff’s Department, which goes by the name of ‘The Regulators.’ The unit has been surveilling a criminal gang called ‘The Outlaws’ made up of ex-military men.

There are some excellent action sequences and the climax is highly entertaining.

This is writer Christian Gudegast’s directorial debut and he does a commendable job. There are some excellent action sequences and the film has a highly entertaining climax. The film also has strong cinematography with some stunning visual imagery and beautiful pan-out shots of Los Angeles.

The film falters however in its story and dialogue. Whilst the story is not bad, it is one that audiences will be familiar with thanks to most bank robbery films. There are striking similarities with Heat (1995) starring Robert De Niro and Al Pacino, but Butler and Schreiber are no match for that iconic duo. There are strange psychological games going on between Nick and Merriman but the two usually remain silent in their interactions.

The film is full of bad-cop clichés and a lot of Butler’s dialogue seems forced and quite unnatural.

The film is full of bad-cop clichés and a lot of Butler’s dialogue seems forced and quite unnatural. He plays a cop with such disregard for the law that he smokes in every public place he visits.

With that being said, the acting is decent in spite of the poor dialogue. Butler’s performance is delivered with his typical physicality. We see that O’Shea Jackson Jr. is an actor capable of more than just impersonating his father. 50 Cent does most of his acting by way of facial expressions with a noticeable lack of lines.

To ensure the action was done well, the cast underwent two weeks of military training and it shows. The casting team also placed a strong emphasis on picking only those with serious muscle mass. Aside from Jackson Jr., everybody seems to have trained hard for filming, Butler says he gained 25 pounds for it.

At two hours and twenty minutes, the film is unnecessarily long. The action scenes that bookend the film are nail-biting, but a lot of the scenes in between could have been cut. The scenes which attempt to give the characters’ backstories are the weakest except for the prom scene. This one adds comedic relief and shows a human side to the Outlaws.

In a nutshell: This film does exactly as it says on the tin. It’s an action-packed, high-octane, predictable bank robbery flick with great cinematography and decent acting.