Den Of Thieves: When I first heard of this, I couldn’t see how it could last almost two-and-a-half hours, as I don’t think most films should run more than two, but was I right?
Well, to my surprise, this is one of those films where the extended running time gives the plot room to breathe. Plus, since I’d heard comparisons to 1995’s Michael Mann thriller, Heat, I assumed – with Gerard Butler present – this would be like a budget and/or comedy version. Not so…
Taking place in Los Angeles, this is the city where the most bank robberies in the world take place.
Gerard Butler is ‘Big Nick’ O’Brien – very much a maverick character, doing things his way and getting on the FBI’s tits, such as after a typical piece of bravado, the one Nick calls Lobbin’ Bob (Jordan Bridges) tells him, “I don’t like you, Nick”, there comes the response: “I like you! …aside from the fact you’re a vegetarian.”
There’s a big gang of baddies out there, led by Ray Merrimen (Pablo Schreiber), with Donnie Wilson (O’Shea Jackson Jr) as their driver, and good support from Curtis Jackson, aka 50 Cent, as Enson Levoux. Yes, I’d normally get a bit sniffy about pop stars turning up in films, but he makes a great fist of his role.
They want to go for the biggest bank that’s never been successfully breached, but will they make it? There’s a zillion odds stacked up against them, which is what entices ringleader Ray, and if anyone can do it, they’re the crew to make it work, but will they be successful? As Nick says when he catches up with one of them, early on, “You’re not the bad guys… we are!”
I thought this would be another meathead role for Butler, but it’s not that sort of thing at all. It skilfully shows us the heist and then it goes back and lets us in on how the gang come together and made their preparations, often with a score humming through many of the scenes as the tension builds up.
The general premise is beefed up by little things, such as how Nick has his own family strife to deal with while he’s married to the job, and elsewhere, oh, that pre-prom scene…
Even the general feel of this film is akin to cut-scenes from Grand Theft Auto San Andreas which, for me, really helped it excel. I’d already mentioned general tension, but there’s moments of blinding tension, and elements of surprise that you were NOT expecting.
In addition, every now and again there’s place or character names onscreen to point out key aspects of the film, and with subtitles being available in English, I highly recommend you put them on because the wise-cracking, and other dialogue, is very mumbled, and you’ll miss most of it, otherwise.
I also think a follow-up could work with a lot of the same characters, moving on to a new story. Sadly, while I don’t know the budget of this film, it only took $80m at the box office worldwide, which is a great shame as more people need to see this… and now they can!
The film is presented in the original 2.35:1 widescreen ratio and in 1080p high definition and as you’d expect for a modern movie shot on digital film, it looks flawless, here bringing out the scenes of the baking hot LA Scene. I’m watching on a PS4 played through a 50″ Plasma TV.
The DTS 5.1 HD-MA sound is great when it’s used for the blistering sound of the rapid-fire gunshots are intense.
The extras are as follows, but the three featurettes are just filler for TV shows to slot in when a film’s in the cinema:
- Alpha Males (2:05): Most of the characters are males and they like to show off their big weapons.
- Alameda Corridor (3:14): This refers to a particular big scene in the movie, so no spoilers here.
- Into The Den (2:06): More of the same.
- Audio description: does exactly what it says on the tin.
- Audio commentary: from writer/director Christian Gudegast and producer Tucker Tooley.
The menu features clips from the film and a piece of the theme, there are a disappointingly low 12 chapters. Subtitles are in English only. There’s also 2 trailers before the main menu comes up. These should be in the extras menu, so as such, I won’t mention them here.
but realises he’s drawn the irritating Naga Munchetty as the interviewer.
Running time: 140 minutes
Studio: Sony Pictures
Released: June 4th 2018
Picture: 1080p High Definition
Sound: DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
Languages: DTS-HD MA 5.1: English
Format: 2.35:1 (ARRIRAW (3.4K))
Disc Format: BD50
Director: Christian Gudegast
Producers: Gerard Butler, Mark Canton, Alan Siegel and Tucker Tooley
Screenplay: Christian Gudegast
Music: Cliff Martinez
‘Big Nick’ O’Brien: Gerard Butler
Ray Merrimen: Pablo Schreiber
Donnie Wilson: O’Shea Jackson Jr
Enson Levoux 50 Cent (aka Curtis Jackson)
Holly: Meadow Williams
Benny ‘Borracho’ Magalon: Maurice Compte
Murph Connors: Brian Van Holt
Bo ‘Bosco’ Ostroman: Evan Jones
Gus Henderson: Mo McRae
‘Tony Z’ Zapata: Kaiwi Lyman
Debbie O’Brien: Dawn Olivieri
Ziggy Zerhusen: Eric Braeden
Lobbin’ Bob: Jordan Bridges
Secret Service Lobby Guard #1: Lewis Tan
Mack: Cooper Andrews
Marcus Rhodes: Marcus LaVoi
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.