Den of Thieves is a 2018 American action movie directed and produced by one Christian Gudegast. It pivots on a batch of top-notch Los Angeles County Sherriff Deputies who are hell-bent on thwarting the long overdue activities of a gang of experienced robbers led by Merrimen (Pablo Schreiber) and Levi Enson (50 Cent). Under the stewardship of Nick Flanagan (Gerard Butler), the elite force attempt to track down these notorious criminals who have been operating covertly and under the authorities’ radar for quite some time as they are planning to make away with millions of dollars stashed in the L.A Federal Reserve.
The movie draws you in from minute one: there’s a fantastic opening sequence to show you how good the gang of thieves are at being bad; so bad it’s exciting in an unforgiving sort of way. Gerard Butler goes all out in this movie; probably the best acting I’ve seen from him since 300 and that says a lot about how generally below par he has been in his recent movies, the standout being last year’s Geostorm. His character struck me as conflicted and emotionally torn; you could see it in his eyes and his actions. 5O Cent is also in this movie as the gang leader; his character has a subtle but unpredictable personality much like his real personality off camera and he in many ways is opening up the ajar music-to-movies door of transition that many musicians e.g Mary J. Blidge in Hollywood today are interested in using given that the latter industry is quite lucrative. O’shea Jackson Jnr. or better yet “Lil Ice Cube” as I like referring to him plays Donnie; a rather expendable member of the gang being sought after who tends in a bar off-duty. The Straight Outta Compton actor sits on the fence with me in terms of how best his character traits are executed in that its all bone with no flesh but I’ll slide that under the rug given that he hasn’t been in the acting game long enough and maybe the script for this movie was too strict on him and didn’t allow for possible dynamism in terms of the role he plays.
As far as the banes are concerned, it’s worth mentioning that this movie bears a striking resemblance to 1995’s Heat starring Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, and Batman actor Val Kilmer. For people who have seen the latter movie as well as the one I being reviewed, this situation could be flipped around so many ways but in the end, you’ll either see Den of Thieves as a straight up rip-off the Michael Mann movie or a well shot and well-directed reincarnation of the events in the mentioned film. If you are reading this review right now and you haven’t seen Heat yet then I’d suggest that you go watch it then notice certain details and scenes that are quite similar to Gudegast’s film. Additionally, there are some scenes in this motion picture that dragged the pacing a lot; especially ones that are devoid of any drama and/or action and there are few characters as well who seemed like they had something substantial to bring to the table in terms of their skillset but didn’t get enough screen time.
I am an avid rock music fanatic myself and whenever I come across the name Cliff Martinez, only one word comes to mind; Genius. He was great in his ‘Red Hot Chili Peppers’ days and even in retirement as a phenomenal band member, he has gone on to become a great film composer and this particular one is a testament of that. The music is properly placed to bring out the emotionality and tone of various scenes and I loved it.
All the same, if you are someone like me who feels like Den of Thieves was disappointing, primarily because it borrows a lot from a past movie but at the same time, you acknowledge that it is a fantastic movie to watch then I guess you are on the right wavelength of judgment. It’s doubtlessly worth two hours and fifteen minutes of your life.