Den of Thieves
U/A: Action, drama
Director: Christian Gudegast
Cast: Gerard Butler, Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson, Pablo Schreiber, Maurice Compte, Brian Van Holt, Evan Jones, O'Shea Jackson Jr.
This one is a really long-drawn (2 hours and 20 mins long) cops-and-robbers yawn! "Den of Thieves" – that's what Los Angeles is infamously known as – explained by the opening text which highlights the many bank robberies that occurred in Los Angeles California over the span of one year. The detailed stats is used to slam home what occurs thereafter of course.
Writers Christian Gudegast and Paul Scheuring make this heist story problematic indeed. Their idea of thrill is juxtaposing statistics against action. And it just might have served the purpose if there was something more insinuating validating that spiel.
Nick( Gerard Butler) the hard-drinking leader of the Regulators, an elite unit of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department is on a collision course with Ray Merrimen( Pablo Schreiber) the recently paroled leader of the Outlaws, a gang of ex-military men who use their expertise and tactical skills to evade the law. The latter's team is hatching an elaborate plan to steal from the Federal Reserve Bank, considered the only Bank that hasn't been robbed yet. So it's as much of a challenge robbing it as protecting it.
The two sets of men are bad and ugly depending on which side of the law you are on. Boorishness and crudeness go hand in glove with Nick's cavalier attitude. For Ray, who is openly corrupted the precious few ethics that he holds, have a stronger claim to his conscience. But "Den of Thieves" is never really interested in playing out that dynamic to a successful and satisfying conclusion. It prefers trivial pursuits that garner immediate glory rather than satisfying or memorable ones. It's a convoluted heist movie at best- and there's little glory becoming in that. There are several layers being played out here, obviously designed to make it seem complex but the run of play is such that it just gets complicated.
It seems a little preposterous that Nick who pressures Donnie to turn informant, then greets him effusively at a restaurant right in front of Merriman and his men. And then you see Nick and Merriman shooting at the same firing range. And then when Merriman returns home to his wife, he finds Nick half-naked and ready to leave. I wouldn't be surprised if anyone questioned what this film was trying to say. Moral corruption obviously is not only the mainstay of criminals. The so-called intention of adding psychological depth feels a little too facile. The end-play heist feels drawn out and stretched to unbelievable lengths and the twist at the end makes it all seem rather ludicrous too. The actors really don't have to do much other than strut around with overlying machismo. The director obviously did not have any idea what he was trying to achieve and the editing is such that even a freshman would have worked out with a lot more smartness. This ain't the thrill pill you were expecting!
Watch Den of Thieves Trailer