Den of Thieves Movie Review Doesn't Steal Your Time




Review: Den of Thieves

Doesn't Steal Your Time

At every gym, there are a select few who are vastly superior in their size, weight, and aura of arrogance. Even through their smacking of gum, intrepid grunts, scruffy voices, and unforgiving ability to lower self-esteem, one must admire the sheer unalloyed masculinity as they are the very last people to pick a fight with. If their size wasn't enough, the 600 pounds they are dead-lifting could very well give one second thoughts. Men like this are at the core of 'Den of Thieves', men who you only see on the silver screen or perhaps your local gym. Take Gerard Butler, the dogmatic cop who takes his rugged yet flawed character to cartoon heights, as if all else were to dwell in the shadow of his charisma. You could interpret this for every lead in the film, you could even say 'Den of Thieves' itself wears the same muscled aloofness with it to it's violent yet surprisingly rousing, dubious Keyser Soze inspired finish. Inspired may be a stretch as it borrows from "To Live and Die in LA' and 'Heat', although luckily it is wholly self aware.

There isn't an ounce of originality here, there is no prophetic insight, or attempt to voice itself through its cynical facades. The ending, in effect, nearly mirrors the Robert De Niro/Al Pacino standoff that concluded Michel Mann's 'Heat', a brilliant film that found prosperity in its modernist virtue of conviction. However, I was enticed by director Christian Gudegast's craft, and his capacity to shape tension, a rare feeling to surface in the January season at the Cineplex. It invites you in with the stalwart crew of deviants through humor and the refreshing ability to never take itself too seriously. Unfortunately, it's brisk pacing, burly characters, and gripping shootouts and bank robberies cannot make time always fly throughout the two hour and twenty-minute run-time, and it never remits characters to favor in the passage, making for a periodically frustrating watch.

Opening to a scene that demands us to view the city of angles as a cesspool for thugs and bank robberies, the tone is promptly set. The film hastily maneuvers toward action as the group of thieves bereave an empty armored car, which would become a brilliant move and a vital piece to the final heist, although a move that did not go without carnage. The posse, of course, has more brains than brawn, as they divest and diverge culminating to a heist on the "one bank in L.A. that has never been robbed". The ringleader, played with heart by Pablo Schreiber painstakingly plans out the purposeful heists, as they lead up to something monumental. His company features the familiar faces of early winter action flicks 50 Cent, O'shea Jackson Jr., Brian Van Holt, and Evan Jones who are pursued by the daunting rogue policeman Gerard Butler, who wears his drunken tough presence through and through. Butler is the decided standout and a vessel for the films parcel of emotional weight traversing his archetypal past deadpan characters, showing dare I say, range and guise. Playing exceptionally off Schrieber, as the two's attempts to one-up each other flirt with being comical and playful.

Alfred Hitchcock once stated, "the length of a film should be directly related to the human bladder". Films that warrant a longer stay should inspire and have us captivated by the screen rather than thinking about our bodies need to "go", or cramp up. 'Den of Thieves', if trimmed down by twenty minutes (take out Butler's redundant family story), would have been a fresh and riveting debut from director Christian Gudegast, nonetheless, it's building tension and fine performances keep the film moving, amounting to entertainment that will not steal your time.