Den Of Thieves

***1/2

Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

Den Of Thieves
"This is power unchained and unfiltered as the two protagonists position themselves for the final shootout like in an urban Western"

In the tradition of good cop/bad cop take yourself to the point where good cop is reassigned to transport duties and you are left with an undercover psychopath whose social skills would make the bull in the china shop look like a sissy.

"We just shot him. Less paperwork."

Copy picture

OK, we get it. Nick O'Brien (Gerard Butler) is a law unto himself which means the law has nothing to do with it. In his loathing for the scumbag universe there is no quarter given. Violence is all encompassing. Take it, or take it. Leaving is not an option.

Los Angeles is the bank robbery capital of the world, or so we are told. The first half of the film involves a heist that goes wrong and a number of cops are killed. Nick knows who is responsible and from then then on it's Vendetta Central with a twist, involving much shouting and gnashing of teeth. Nick's wife (or is she his live-in punchbag?) does a runner which adds to his dangerously high rage levels. Crime fighters are no different to CEOs or presidents. Once off the leash they become feral and no one is safe, no one can stop them, or so they believe.

Nick is a bully and a killer. "We are the bad guys now," he screams into the face of a suspect in case he hasn't read the message in his own blood. This is power unchained and unfiltered as the two protagonists position themselves for the final shootout like in an urban Western.

What works well is writer/director Christian Gudegast's naturalistic style. He doesn't play auteur games. He stays as close to the action as possible which stimulates excitement once the second robbery is in motion and things don't follow expected routes, surprising Nick and his team, who have to fend off the FBI and other interfering police procedures.

Is this Butler's Training Day? As producer and star he is responsible for a scenario that doesn't fit the expectations of his fans. He takes the risk and it pays off. This has to be his strongest performance yet. He doesn't hold back and doesn't cling to past illusions of heroic redemption. It requires courage to unpick the fabric of the man who saved America (Olympus Has Landed) and turn off the taps in P.S. I Love You.

If this is a mid-life crisis the direction of travel is clear. Stay real, Gerard. You're making the right choices.

Reviewed on: 01 Feb 2018
Share this with others on...
Den Of Thieves packshot
A maverick cop takes on the most dangerous and cunning thief in the bank robbery capital of the world.

Director: Christian Gudegast

Writer: Christian Gudegast

Starring: Gerard Butler, Pablo Schreiber, O'Shea Jackson Jr, 50 Cent, Meadow Williams, Maurice Compte, Brian Van Holt, Evan Jones, Mo McRae, Kaiwi Lyman

Year: 2018

Runtime: 140 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: US

Festivals:


Search database: