American films

Den of Thieves film review: Gerard Butler, Pablo Schreiber face off in cops-and-robbers thriller that is sadly no Heat

Director Christian Gudegast’s film is not without its good bits – especially the parts where the police behave worse than the gang they are trying to nail – but the main problem is that the mechanics of the big robbery just don’t add up

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 13 March, 2018, 1:03pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 13 March, 2018, 1:03pm

3/5 stars

Hardcore action fans might find enough to satiate their desire for tricky gunplay and explosive violence in this gritty heist thriller, but the story has too many holes to appeal to anyone else. That’s not for the want of trying, however, as first-time director Christian Gudegast, writer of the disastrous London Has Fallen, works hard to create an interesting labyrinth for his cops and robbers to inhabit.

What’s more, Gudegast makes a concerted attempt to depict the personal lives of the players to give them emotional depth, in the manner of Michael Mann’s classic Heat. The results, though, are not good enough to propel the film to similar heights.

The story focuses on a clever bank robber (Pablo Schreiber) and the dissolute cop (Gerard Butler) who is determined to foil his plan to pull off Los Angeles’ biggest-ever bank job. A lowly getaway driver (O’Shea Jackson Jr) is caught in the middle.

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The best parts of the film involve Butler and his cohorts displaying worse behaviour than the gang they are trying to nail as they berate suspects, brawl and hang out in strip joints. The extended fight scenes are exciting, too, although they lack the bravura of Hong Kong actioners.

The main problem is that the mechanics of the big robbery don’t add up – it’s difficult to figure out what exactly is being done, and how the criminals are carrying it out. A pitched battle on a crowded highway is mysteriously devoid of civilian casualties, and an unbelievable twist at the end almost ruins the whole caper.

Den of Thieves opens on March 15

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