Director: Christian Gudegast
Starring: Gerard Butler, Pablo Schreiber, O’Shea Jackson Jr & Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson
After a string of critical flops, Geostorm, London Has Fallen and Gods of Egypt spring to mind, Gerard Butler returns with Den of Thieves in desperate need of a hit film. Teaming up with London Has Fallen’s writer in his directorial debut, Christian Gudegast, the pair bring us a gritty, no-nonsense bank heist that, whilst formulaic, still manages to entertain.
Opening with a brutal barrage of bullets in the bank robbery capital of the world, Los Angeles, we meet Gerard Butler’s ‘Big Nick’ O’Brien, the head of the elite Major Crimes unit. He’s tasked with tracking down LA’s most prolific and successful bank robbers, a gang headed up by Pablo Schreiber’s Ray Merrimen.
Merrimen’s band of merry men intend to rob the LA branch of the US Federal Reserve, the holy grail of bank robberies. Nick and his team get wind of this and what follows is a game of cat and mouse with plenty of twists along the way.
Den of Thieves is a return to form for Gerard Butler. We know he can play a convincing tough guy, and here he ups the sleaze factor along with an extra slice of sarcasm to give his best performance in a long time. His determination to bring Merrimen to justice is at the expense of his marriage, and, even though he’s brought it on himself, you have to feel a little sorry for him during a moving playground scene with one of his daughters.
Pablo Schreiber is excellent as the film’s bad guy. His huge presence is intimidating, whilst his moments of stillness are equally unnerving. The rest of his crew have little to do, including a mumbling 50 Cent, but Pablo’s performance is matched by a superb O’Shea Jackson Jnr as Donnie Wilson, a reluctant informant.
In amongst the serious business at hand there are a couple of very funny moments. Ray serving up a course of awkwardness at a dinner party and 50 Cent doing what every father with a daughter about to celebrate her prom night wishes he could do.
Although Den of Thieves isn’t particularly original, it’s a decent heist thriller, with some terrific turns by the three leads. There are some nice action pieces culminating in a good old fashioned game of cops and robbers.