Friday, February 2, 2018

Review: Den of Thieves

It's been a while since I've just escaped into an action movie with all these prestige pictures filling up movie theaters these days.  With Den of Thieves, Gerard Butler's new heist film, I had a chance to take in this mindless shoot-em-up.  Directed by Christian Gudegast (don't worry, I've never heard of him either), Thieves stages a battle between a gang of bank robbers (led by Orange is the New Black's Porn Stache / Pablo Schreiber) and Butler and his band of too-cool-for-school Los Angeles detectives.  The movie plays out as a cat-and-mouse game between the two sides through various Hollywood-area neighborhoods and climaxes in a large scale heist attempt at the LA Federal Reserve.

There is a LOT of shooting in this film and the bullet discharge and casing drops pepper throughout the theater.  Gudegast is obviously in love with guns and it shows throughout several shoot-out sequences, culminating in a gripping clash in the middle of LA rush hour (sort of the opposite version of the opening scene of La La Land).

What's really notable about this film is that its 140 minute run time flies by.  I couldn't believe the movie was wrapping up when it did.  I'm not sure if we can credit Gudegast with this or not, but the pacing is pretty well done.  The acting is serviceable enough and once again O'Shea Jackson proves that he can make a name for himself and will eventually be known as more than just Ice Cube's spawn.  I forgot all about 50 Cent, but Curtis Jackson shows up as part of Schreiber's team and fits right in.  Overall I just wanted more out of the story with this film.  The end heist is solid but not very original and the end twist is just marginally amusing/surprising. A throw-away conflict sub plot between Butler and his troubled marriage is just extra unnecessary bloat.

Den of Thieves is nothing amazing, nothing really memorable, but it is a good time at the movies and I can unequivocally say right now that it is the BEST FILM of 2018 :).  Great sound, solid action and a semi-interesting story adds up to a 3.5 JR movie.  If you've already seen all the Oscar contenders (like I have) then treat yourself to a matinee of this one.  Only a few more weeks until my next hotly anticipated release of Ryan Coogler's Black Panther.