Friday 2 February 2018

"Den of Thieves" (Guardian 02/02/18)

Den of Thieves **
Dir: Christian Gudegast. With: Gerard Butler, Pablo Schreiber, O’Shea Jackson Jr., Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson. 140 mins. Cert: 15

It’s been 23 years since Michael Mann’s landmark L.A. crime opus Heat alchemised pulp into gleaming screen spectacle, raising the possibility an entire generation has gone unaware of the symbiotic cops-and-robbers trope. Writer-director Christian Gudegast here leaps into that demographic gap with a film that falls somewhere between Mann fan art and an extended upgrade of those late-Nineties knock-offs with titles like City of Industry and Body Count. The script, co-credited to Prison Break mastermind Paul Scheuring, outlines yet another mirrored face-off. On one side, jacked and tatted outlaws – headed by Orange is the New Black’s Pablo Schreiber – who have the audacity to steal an empty armoured van for reasons initially unclear; opposite them, jacked and tatted detectives, headed by all-drinkin’, ever-smokin’ bad boy Gerard Butler, some indication of where we are in relation to the film’s obvious inspiration.

It has a few new angles (50 Cent uses Schreiber’s heavies to unsettle his daughter’s prom date), and some of its hand-me-downs remain eye-catching: the decision to shoot L.A. as a living, working environment isn’t remotely original, but appeals nevertheless. Other cribs – like Butler’s relationship with his soon-to-be-ex (Dawn Olivieri), a flat Xerox of Mann’s Pacino-Diane Venora business – yield chuckles, however, and the generally hopped-up, steroidal approach can be seen in an insistence that its antagonists coincide every quarter-hour, in sushi bars, firing ranges, even a shared lover’s parlour. Analogue in its effects, it’s the kind of throwback that may just win over videoshop nostalgists – though they’ll still have to plough through hunks of unleavened cliché, a dumb-as-nuts final flourish, and so much pec-flexing and armed alpha willy-waggling it often resembles a men’s rights bonding weekend more than it does a movie.

Den of Thieves opens in cinemas nationwide today.

1 comment:

  1. zmovie - This film was a good romp and a solid 7 in my opinion. It crtainly doesn't deserve some of the ludicrous scores some people have rated it on here! Well acted and plenty of action. Then again I always thought Heat was overrated (probably would give that a 7 as well). I didn't feel it was overlong and din't get bored once. Yes, there were a few plot holes, but overrall this was good entertainment and so much better than much of the absolute dross that's doing the rounds at present. Don't listen to the naysayers on here, this one is well worth your time.
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