TBS used to advertise “movies for guys who like movies.” Den of Thieves fits TBS’s mold. Gerard Butler stars as yet another man’s man, Big Nick, head of the Major Crimes Division of the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department. When Big Nick’s crew gets wind of the latest heist planned by bank robber extraordinaire Merriman (Pablo Schreiber), they use every means at their disposal, including the info from getaway driver Donnie (O’Shea Jackson Jr.), to make the collar.
I am a sucker for heist flicks like this. First-time feature director Christian Gudegast, who wrote London Has Fallen, definitely helms this in the guise of David Ayers, the crime maestro who has graduated to superhero flicks and Netflix. Den of Thieves may lack grace and subtext, but it makes up for it in over-muscled Heat-meets-Usual Suspects shenanigans. Who hasn’t been waiting for a Butler vs. Schreiber flick?
Maybe that is what the perfectly acceptable Den of Thieves is missing: an antagonist to match its badder-than-the-bad-guys cop. Perhaps Jackson’s papa, Ice Cube, would have matched up better with Butler. Not many other beefy leads could. It may be about time we had a conversation about the unlikely legacy of London Has Fallen, which was written by Gudegast and directed by Proud Mary’s Babak Najafi.
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