When an armoured car heist results in the death of multiple police officers, the Major Crime Unit of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department are brought in to investigate. Led by Detective Nicholas "Big Nick" O'Brien (Gerard Butler), the unit's investigation leads them to a highly skilled crew, who are planning their biggest heist yet...the Los Angeles Federal Reserve.
Have you ever wondered what Michael Mann's 'Heat' would look like if it had been made by a bunch of teenagers? If your answer is yes, this could be the movie for you. Ridiculous is one word that I'd use to describe Den of Thieves. The cops seem to do very little actual police work. For the most part they run round acting like arseholes and despite several stupid moves, just happen to get lucky. In fact, they seem to break more laws than the bad guys! Usually cops in movies that are a bit of a bum and let their family lives go to shit are still likeable, enough that you feel sorry for them anyway, because they're good at their job. But in this case Butler's "Big Nick" for example, deserves everything he gets! A sub-plot in which he has marriage troubles does nothing for the overall story except make him look like more of an arse.
By far the best part of the movie is the planning and execution of the heist. Director Christian Gudegast - a screenwriter on London Has Fallen - does a good job of ratchetting up a bit of tension in the third act. I don't know how believable the plan is, but it certainly looks very clever. So much so, you almost start to root for the criminals, who are slightly less detestable than the cops. But the fairly decent cast - many of whom are good at playing the loveable rogue - are unable to do anything to make their characters in any way likeable. I can't help thinking that Den of Thieves would be at least a slightly better movie if the cops were reduced to a bit part and the focus shifted to the heist. The story even has a clever twist to it, but it's just not worth sitting through the 2 hour 20 minute movie for.
Despite an ambitious plan and an interesting twist, Den of Thieves fails to live up to the heist movies it celebrates. The unlikeable characters and questionable actions of supposed veteran detectives only serve to make the movie more unwatchable. A sequel is said to be in the works, but I think I'd rather stay home and watch any number of brilliant heist movies already out there.
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