Directed by: Christian Gudegast | Produced by: Gerard Butler, Mark Canton, Christian Gudegast, Ryan Kavanaugh, Tucker Tooley | Screenplay by: Christian Gudegast | Story by: Christian Gudegast, Paul Scheuring | Starring: Gerard Butler, Pablo Schreiber, O’Shea Johnson, Jr., 50 Cent | Music by: Cliff Martinez | Cinematography: Terry Stacey | Edited by: Joel Cox | Production Companies: Diamond Film Productions, Tooley Productions, G-Base | Distributed by: STXFilms | Official Website
The reason why I saw this movie, I’m just interested in the title and it’s an action movie. I always love action, and all the movies that give me thrills. Just when I saw Gerard Butler, tattoed and groaning in his leather jacket, I said to myself, “Oh, not another Gerard Butler movie again” and “Why is he even starred here?”. However, this movie turns to be quite enjoyable, although at some point it’s still painful to be watched.
Gerard Butler here is Big Nick O’Brien, head of Major Crimes unit of Los Angeles Sheriff Department. Him and his four colleagues are striving the chance to catch one of the criminal robbers and defeat their plan to perform one of the biggest robbery in the history of Los Angeles: the robbery of Federal Reserve branch in Los Angeles. Their adversary is Ray Merrimen (Pablo Schreiber of American Gods) and his henchmen like protective father Levi (rapper turn actor 50 Cent) and Bosco (Evan Jones). Nick is running out of time against Merrimen’s sounds-like-perfect-plan, and he’s collecting his bread crumbs from Merrimen’s coward driver Donnie (O’Shea Jackson, Jr.).
First thing to catch, this is a classic cat-and-mouse, police-and-robber movie. This movie does not an extraordinary basic story, it’s just repeating the story we’ve been playing since we were just little kids. Second, director Gudegast seems to watch The Heat (1995) too much so he is inspired to make a similar movie. However, Gerard Butler and Pablo Schreiber are not Al Pacino and Robert De Niro. So the police-and-robber chemistry here is not too comfortable too watch.
Gudegast here is also trying to make us see that the world isn’t pure black-and-white, it’s full of grey area. It is convinced by Butler’s statement, “You’re not the bad guy here. We are.”
Surprisingly, Butler is not a pure pain-in-the-ass here. Although his character is quite typical, but he is back. We already missed that brave King Leonidas in 300 (2006), and he never fully came back unless for Die-Hardist Banning in Olympus Has Fallen (2013) and its sequel London Has Fallen (2016). Here, Butler is playing his role quite well and enjoyable. Pablo Schreiber, on the other side, is more like a boy next door rather than intimidating criminal. He looks sweet, well-built, but he’s not describing a terrifying villain at all.
The most painful thing to watch in Den of Thieves is the length of the movie. It’s 140 minutes of your life that you cannot get back, watching Butler’s crying over his wife leaving him, that side plot that has no influence to the main plot. Gudegast is maybe trying to humanize his character by giving him a personal conflict, but it just lengthens the movie unreasonably. Moreover, the conflict feels dragging after all, so it got pointless.
The twist in the end is sweet and unpredictable. I like movie with a twisted ending, and that’s why I give quite good score for this movie.