Den of Thieves is directed by Christian Gudegast and stars Gerald Butler as a crooked sheriff that doesn’t play by the rules who is on the hunt for a crack team of criminals that intend to rob the Federal Reserve in Los Angeles.
Being his directorial debut, Gudegast had to have been influenced big time by the heavy hitters of the past in the crime thriller genre. From Michael Mann’s work (Heat, Collateral) to films such as Mystic River or Ocean’s Eleven.
In fact, it’s very apparent because it’s obvious this director borrowed a lot of the same themes and ideas from crime thrillers of the past. But that’s not to say this director didn’t have fun with these similar tropes.
Created by the group of criminals lead by Pablo Schreiber and company, the intricacy and the execution of the heisting is the most investing aspect of the film. Admittedly being all very one-note characters, it’s because of the charismatic performances from these bad guys that will keep audiences captivated at the very least.
Schreiber, along with his noticeable brothers in arms in O’ Shea Jackson and surprisingly 50 Cent, are all able to hold their own well enough to keep things on screen interesting. They all have a presence, specifically Jackson who continues to impress since Straight Outta Compton.
The action is competently well shot, matching on par with the urgency and intensity that these macho characters are placed in. The shoot outs, while a bit long in length, are helm extremely well. Gunfire actually sounds like gunfire that echos through different loads of ammo, it’s not the typical stock gun sound effects you might expect.
Albeit, if you’ve seen a lot of crime thrillers, a lot of scenes might strike you as familiar. I found multiple allusions to Michael Mann’s Heat in this film, but it’s not in that homage kind of way. There’s moments that are literally from Heat just shuffle around differently! Granted, Den of Thieves is still able to make these certain moments entertaining enough to look pass it.
Beyond that, the majority of this film consists of typical cops and robbers dialogue and actions to pad out the run time. It’s essentially just everything that is suppose to sound and look “tough” coming from these thug-like characters.
Take Gerald Butler’s character. Of course his character isn’t the kind to follow the rules of a standard cop, and of course his wife is serving him up some divorce papers on the fly. It’s all by the numbers fluff.
As a whole, Den of Thieves is actually a fairly entertaining crime thriller, even if it can’t help but be compared to its clear cut inspirations. But that said, the way the film borrows from the past is still interesting and devoting enough to keep it afloat in spite of the cast and their commitment to be tough as nails throughout.
I’m going to give Den of Thieves a “C+” as my final take. If you take anything away from this review, it’s two things: rent Den of Thieves on Redbox and just go watch Heat. That’s definitely the better film; Pacino and De Niro, can’t go wrong with that.
As always, thanks so much for reading and make sure to stay posted to Frank’s Takes for more reviews. Until next time, keep it 100.