Director Christian Gudegast
Genre Action | Crime | Drama
Cast Gerard Butler, Pablo Schreiber, O'Shea Jackson Jr., 50 Cent
Release Date January 19th, 2018
Written and directed by Christian Gudegast, his directorial debut, Den of Thieves is a crime drama about a thief who finds himself stuck in the middle of a dangerous game of cat and mouse while attempting to plan a daring bank robbery. Gudegast previously wrote the screenplays for the Vin Diesel film A Man Apart, and Gerard Butler's London Has Fallen. The cast includes Gerard Butler, Pablo Schreiber, O'Shea Jackson Jr., and Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson.
Evidently inspired by heist films such as The Town and Baby Driver, Den of Thieves is a gritty and immersive crime thriller complete with testosterone infused gunfights and big egos. Now, just because I pointed out the inspiration drawn from the films I mentioned previously doesn’t necessarily mean Den of Thieves is on the same level, but it is certainly in the same neighborhood. Den of Thieves is a film where it definitely helps to check expectations at the door sort of speak, which isn't a knock on the quality of the movie, but instead to simply prepare for one heck of a fun ride. I was looking forward to Den of Thieves for quite a while because of the cast as well as my obsession with gritty heist films, and it exceeded my relatively moderate expectations. It hits all of the key points without trying to do too much, and it has a very clear identity from the beginning.
It is apparent from the opening scene that this is a movie where you are going to see large men puffing out their chests while engaging in a very dangerous "pissing contest" and firing automatic weapons at each other with zero remorse, which is a recipe for success if you ask me. I was genuinely impressed with Christian Gudegast's directing style, especially considering this was his first time in the director’s chair, and felt that his raw style fit this type of film perfectly. Gudegast also wrote the script, so he clearly had a vision in mind, and he put everything together nicely. Den of Thieves also has a pretty good twist to the story that caught me off guard, and was one of those "ah-ha" moments which I thought was pretty cool. I picked up on a few things that felt inconsistent within the plot during the film, but once the twist was revealed it all made sense. As raw and gritty as the film is, and let me tell you, it’s very gritty, it still has a solid element of humor that kept things just light enough. Den of Thieves isn't perfect, and you won't hear it mentioned during any award shows, but what you will get is all of the elements that matter when making a movie like this which amounts to one of the better heist thrillers I've seen in a while.
Den of Thieves assembles a cast that is actually perfect for this style of film, as the plot is built around a gritty sense of masculinity and a sort of defend your turf type mentality. Leading the way is veteran actor Gerard Butler who is no stranger to playing the role of a badass- just look no further than 300 or Law Abiding Citizen. Butler is the hardened head of the Sheriff department’s Major Crimes Division, and much like the criminals they hunt down, these guys play by their own rules. Butler has a ton of experience playing this type of character and he absolutely crushes it yet again. I was impressed with the depth hidden deep within his character as he battles his demons while following the Bill Belichick motto and above all else, doing his job.
On the other side of the fence leading one of the most notorious groups of criminals known for pulling off some of the most daring heists is Pablo Schreiber, most recognizable for his role as the fearless Army Ranger turned military security contractor in 2016's war drama 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi. Schreiber is an imposing figure at just shy of 6'4, and he has the muscle to back up that big frame. It is a ton of fun watching Butler and Schreiber going toe to toe throughout the film. Even though Butler and Schreiber get the vast majority of the screen-time, O'Shea Jackson Jr (the son of rapper turned actor Ice Cube) delivers a very solid performance. Jackson Jr made his big screen debut in Straight Outta Compton, and most expected that he would continue to build on his acting career. In Den of Thieves, Jackson Jr plays the role of a guy seemingly stuck in the middle of an impossible situation, and he handles the role well. People love to bash on Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson's acting career, but the simple fact is that he can be pretty damn good when given the right role, and I actually really enjoyed his character in this film. Fun fact- the first concert I ever attended was a 50 Cent & G-Unit concert- troubled youth some may say. I was also pleased with Mo McRae, Brian Van Holt, Evan Jones, and Maurice Compte in their respective roles. I never felt like the acting was corny at all and I thought the entire cast was fantastic from top to bottom, and the chemistry was top notch.
Den of Thieves injects viewers with a full dose of adrenaline right from the opening scene and never looks back, and that, my friends makes for a fun time at the theater. I was never bored, and at times I was literally on the edge of my seat, especially during one of the more tense scenes towards the end. I consider myself to be somewhat of a heist film junkie, having seen The Town and Inside Man at least 5 or 6 times each, and this did it for me. If you are in the mood for a movie that will make you want to hit the gym and the gun range, in no particular order, Den of Thieves will fit the bill like a charm. I just hope it does well in the box office so we can continue to get more movies like this. Recommended.