Release Date: January 19, 2018
Director: Christian Gudegast
Writer: Christian Gudegast, Paul Scheuring
Cast: Gerard Butler, Jordan Bridges, Pablo Schreiber, Evan Jones, Dawn Olivieri, O’Shea Jackson Jr., 50 Cent, Cooper Andrews, Sonya Balmores, Eric Braeden, Brian Van Holt, Maurice Compte, Lewis Tan, Meadow Williams, Michael Papajohn, Oleg Taktarov, Stefanos Miltsakakis, Kaiwi Lyman, Jermaine Rivers, Mo McRae, Juan Gaspard, Timothy Douglas Perez, Renah Gallagher, Destiny Lopez, Nick Loeb
MPAA Rating: R
Runtime: 140 minutes
Production Company: Diamond Film Productions, G-BASE, Tucker Tooley Entertainment, STX Entertainment
Genre: Action, Crime, Drama
Den of Thieves will mark as Christian Gudegast directorial debut, and from the visual side of things, he knows how to frame action and suspense exceptionally well. With a cast of some of Hollywood’s most entertaining tough looking guys, he gathered a group of men together that any action junkie would be eager to follow. Though the heart of the film may cease here with a well-cooked outside, the core has a cold raw center. And while there is a numerous amount of standout moments within, it’ll still leave you guessing until the end, not knowing what to think.
One of the most exciting aspects going into this film was not knowing which side to root for. From the marketing material, you had to choose to go with either the regulators (the police) or the outlaws (the thieves). It was a choice your subconscious made as the film started, and within the first fifteen minutes, you’re conflicted as to whether you made the right choice.
When you realize how often banks in the Los Angeles are robbed, the severity of the film sets in. Then, as you get to know the outlaws, you immediately know these aren’t your typical ben in the mask with guns. They’re trained, they’re disciplined, and they have a strict code of conduct that they adhere to. The same goes for the regulators. The guys aren’t normal cops. They’re first a street gang that threw away any legal police manuals and solving cases their own way with no regard towards breaking the law. As an audience member, this is beyond exciting and overjoyed to see the outcome, and to some degree, it pays off, but at the same time, it lets you down.
The characters are the highlight of the film ranging from Curtis ’50 Cent’ Jackson, Gerald Butler, toO’Shea Jackson Jr. They all have very distinct personalities within their given group, and personal lives out on their own. Whether they’re on the right side of justice or wrong, they leave a strong impression of the film and will be one of the key moments of your potential enjoyment.
There are two loud popping guns battles throughout the film as well. And both are as invigorating as the actual bank heist itself. It’s hard to determine which moment stood out as more heart pounding, because through them all, you’re at the edge of your seat anticipating the outcome. While the scenes are spread out towards the beginning and end of the film, but everything in the middle is pointless and a waste of screen time. While all the characters were standouts, the film never provided any real backstory or motivation on why they’ve all took the paths they’ve chosen. I never understood the obsession of robbing banks from the outlaws, or the excessive brute force of this elite sheriff’s department in the police force with the regulators. It’s a perfect dinner without the recipe which you were promised. The whole film is a tease of greatness without knowing the core of where it all came from. I wanted to learn more from each character but was simply teased and led on. I wanted to know where all the information that led up to the Federal Reserve came from, but that was brushed over as well. I just wanted more overall and was left feeling empty, and frustrated.
During heist films like Ocean’s Eleven or The Italian Job, the audience knew exactly why the heist was taking place other than just greed for income. There was a personal stake in the game of revenge or the will to find justice. That wasn’t the case with Den of Thieves other than, “I want to rob a bank” or “I want to stop bad guys.” Ok, that’s fine, but what happened in your life that got you to this point. The film never reveals this information, and then cheats by giving you a surprise ending out of nowhere, and attempts to sweep the mess under the bed without any thorough explanation.