Director: Christian Gudegast
Writer/s: Christian Gudegast, Paul Scheuring
Starring: Gerard Butler, O’Shea Jackson Jr., Pablo Schreiber, Evan Jones, 50 Cent, Cooper Andrews, and more.
I had the opportunity to catch a flick with my buddy Chris recently and we went out to see ‘Den of Thieves’ starring most notably Gerard Butler. Going into this, I knew little of the film and I believe I only saw the trailer once before. I knew I was interested in it at the least since I am a fan of heist films and the cast seemed strong, so I tempered my expectations. So now does “Den of Thieves” come as a positive surprise or is it just another January release doomed to fail? It’s time to get it Oberrated.
“A gritty crime saga which follows the lives of an elite unit of the LA Country Sheriff’s Department and the state’s most successful bank robbery crew as the outlaws plan a seemingly impossible heist on the Federal Reserve Bank.”
To the standard critic, an early thought of this film is that it would be utter garbage. 50 Cent who has rarely done well in Hollywood, O’Shea Jackson Jr. riding off of the success of “Straight Outta Compton”, and aside from Gerard Butler who himself is not in too many blockbuster films, the remainder of the cast are nowhere near powerhouse players. So with a seemingly “sub-par” cast and a director in their directorial debut, the typical critic would slate this off quickly. Well I am not the typical critic, am I?
“Den of Thieves” was an impressive outing for me as I enjoyed this heist flick a lot more than I anticipated. Again, early on I knew very little about the film and may have seen the trailer only once. I thought it had promise to be decent but I was not holding my breath. The film kept me invested throughout and despite what can be seen as a slow moving story, there was a consistent tension throughout the film that kept me on the edge of my seat wanting more and waiting for what was next.
Despite the overall serious and tense tone through the majority of the film, there were many moments that even brought a comedic tone to the final product. Led by the cocky and confident Gerard Butler as Nick “Big Nick” Flanagan, Butler turns the sarcastic boss man persona up on full blast. Whether using this persona as an intimidation trick or simply being “Big Nick”, I enjoyed mostly every moment that Butler was on screen.
Aside from Butler, there are plenty other moments that can be viewed as a pointless sideshow act but still was plenty funny to watch unfold.
The issue with heist films, however, is that a number of us as an audience have seen plenty heist films before… good and bad ones. We have our favorites, we recognize the classics, and we remember the failed attempts. While it is easy to go into this film and instantly play the compare and contrast game with “Den of Thieves” to films like “Heat”, “The Italian Job”, “The Usual Suspects” etc, I always say that as a viewer, I must try to watch every film as its own entity. With that said, as its own film, I truly enjoyed “Den of Thieves” as its own being. It had elements of its own that separated itself from the genre. It was a entertaining film and that is the most I could ask and want from a motion picture.
I will forever tell people to approach films as blindly as possible. Sometimes this method works extravagantly sometimes it bites you in the ass but for “Den of Thieves”, going in blind with a single trailer view did me wonders. My expectations were low and my end satisfaction was high. Between the rival chemistry of Butler’s crew vs. Merriman’s crew (Pablo Schreiber) and a consistent element of tension that kept my attention throughout the film. There were very little cons I could pull from “Den of Thieves”. If anything, a heist movie is a heist movie. While being credible enough to standalone as it is, its potential was capped off in my head.
Definitely a positive Oberrating here. Worth a view in the theater but by all means, give it a wait til it hits digital or cheap rental.