By: Oberst Von Berauscht (Three Beers) –
An ultra-organized gang of bank robbers terrorizes Los Angeles county. Following a deadly shoot-out in which an armored car is stolen and the guards killed, Nick O’Brien (Gerard Butler) and his major crimes unit in the sheriff’s department report to action. O’Brien is known for using questionable methods which blur the line between cop and criminal, which he believes makes him more capable of finding the really bad guys. Meanwhile, led by ex-con Merriman (Pablo Schreiber), the bank robbers plan their biggest score yet; the LA branch of the Federal Reserve bank.
Den of Thieves with a Vengeance?
Director Christian Gudegast (London has Fallen) set out to make a gritty crime thriller that delivered on some heavy action set pieces while staying grounded in reality. For the most part this is successful, treading the line between heist thriller and police procedural drama. Gudegast is also the screenwriter, and the dialogue is often witty and clever, carrying the audience through a lot of lengthy exposition. The trailers for this made it out to be a much more action-oriented film than it really is; the the core Den of Thieves is more akin to Heat and The Usual Suspects.
Complete with a paramilitary style gunfight.
This is also the film’s primary fault, because it borrows far too liberally from those films, to the point where it struggles to find any identity of its own. The fact that it is borrowing from famous and acclaimed mateiral and brings little new cannot help but hurt the film’s overall impact. This is a solidly directed film with strong performances in service of something completely unoriginal. As a result, I can only recommend Den of Thieves if you really need to scratch a genre itch and have watched Heat to death already.
The subplot in which we see Gerard Butler’s home life fall apart is a waste of screentime, adding nothing to the main story, nor affecting his character in any measurable way. As soon as he gets to work he’s back in the action as if nothing is wrong, save for one brief scene where he looks down in the mouth. This is a 140 minute movie, and they could have shaved 15-20 minutes easily without missing a beat. I don’t mind longer films in principle, but it needs to be in service of a greater story. This feels like a director who wouldn’t let his editor do his job properly…
Somebody call the Soderbergh!
Did you see all the 2017 Oscar nominated films already and are starved for SOMETHING to watch? Anything? Buy yourself a matinee ticket, a fuck off-size tub of popcorn, and maybe some of those nice crunchy chocolates you like so much. Prepare to be modestly entertained!
Den of Thieves (2018) Drinking Game
Take a Drink: for gun fights
Take a Drink: when a character drinks
Drink a Shot: whenever Gerard Butler spews dialogue along with whatever food is in his mouth