Saturday, 10 February 2018

Review: Den Of Thieves

Den of Thieves
Cert: 15 / 140 mins / Dir. Christian Gudegast / Trailer

Oh, Gerard. Still growling his way through action movies. Still hoping this is just a phase as the his craggy features become ever-more pronounced. Still picking up the Embittered, Alcoholic, Rule-Breaking Cop™ roles that Neeson is too busy for, most likely because they both share a similar level of accent-control. Anyhow, some casting-call listed that aforementioned part along with the character name "Big Nick O'Brien" and his agent evidently thought it was tailor-made for Paisley's finest. And so it came to be.

Big Gerard stars as Big Nick, a police detective in charge of a specialist counter bank robbery squad in downtown Los Angeles (the bank robbery capital of the world, according to the helpful overlay cards we get in the opening moments). When the boys in dress-down body armour get wind of an imminent job on the Federal Reserve*1, it's scowling all round as we follow the cops and criminals alike through a maze of meticulous planning and frantic gunfire. Nick is constructed entirely from tattoo-ink, cigarettes, scotch, coffee, donuts, Pepto-Bismol*2, a weakness for hookers and a maverick disdain for The Suits™. Textbook stuff, to put it diplomatically.

And amazingly, it's not awful.
Although it's pretty far from great.

It also appears that all of Hollywood's script editors are currently on strike. Den of Thieves should be a clock-punching 95 minute romp of shakycam car chases and punch-ups. Instead, director Christian Gudegast self-indulgently ambles along for 140 of them, seeming to believe the movie has something profoundly unique or meaningful to reveal to the audience and the genre itself. Long brooding scenes of Nick's incidental domestic strife try to shore-up a character who hasn't been built in the first place.

In one over-long interrogation scene, Nick explains to a kidnapped suspect "you're not the bad guys - we are". Probably just as well he cleared that up, since other than himself, getaway driver Donnie (O'Shea Jackson Jr) and chief-crim Ray Merrimen*3 (Pablo Schreiber), the members of each 'crew' are underwritten and interchangeable. For the last hour, even the film itself has no idea who it's actually rooting for. But the end result is the same: a £3 Father's Day DVD assembled from offcuts of every heist movie made in the last 40 years.

Packaged like absolute filler and delivered like it too, Den Of Thieves is fine, if unremarkable. The core idea is solid enough, but the movie lacks character.
As well as characters.

So, what sort of thing is it similar to?
Watch Dog Day Afternoon, Hell Or High Water, Sicario and Logan Lucky.
I mean instead, not as-well-as. They're all far better.

Fuck it, even Triple 9 manages to keep the same shit under two hours.

Is it worth paying cinema-prices to see?

Is it worth hunting out on DVD, Blu-ray or streaming, though?
Stream it, tops.

Is this the best work of the cast or director?

Will we disagree about this film in a pub?

Is there a Wilhelm Scream in it?

Yeah but what's the Star Wars connection?
Level 1: This film features Uncredited Stormtrooper from The Last Jedi. And you may well snort at that, but if it was on my CV, that's how I'd be introducing myself at dinner parties.

And if I HAD to put a number on it…

*1 And I'm pleased to report that the line from the trailer in which Pablo Schreiber describes the Federal Reserve as being "like Fort Knox" has been removed in the final edit. Because as we've all known since 1995, that's a false equivalence. [ BACK ]

*2 Although no packaging is displayed on-screen, Pepto-Bismol is specifically namechecked in the final shooting-script. Although that's still nowhere near as cool as that time Seabrook Crisps got a product-placement deal in a Fast & Furious flick. [ BACK ]

*3 'Ray Merrimen'? Surely he should be Robin Merrimen, if anything? That said, if a movie titled 'Den of Thieves' can be made without Dennis Waterman or Hugh Dennis as the lead actor, we shouldn't expect too much from naming conventions within it.
[ BACK ]

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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