Thankfully not a documentary about the AnyGoodFilms office, Den of Thieves is a bit of a godsend for actor Gerard Butler whose recent films have included blockbuster box office bombs ‘Gods of Egypt’ & ‘Geostorm’, rom-com wreck ‘Playing for Keeps’ and calamitous comedy ‘Movie 43’. Writer Christian Gudegast has thrown him something of a lifeline with the action crime drama which has Butler as Big Nick O’Brien a cop who leads a small unit who specialise in taking down robbery gangs which, as the opening titles make clear, occur every 48 minutes – quite why there’s not a cop at every bank every 48 minutes is never explained.
Opening with a security van robbery where it’s the van rather than its contents that are stolen by a gang ending in a shootout it finds Big Nick (Gerard Butler),whose name we know from a freeze frame and his name stamped on the screen as way of introduction, at the crime scene where he appears to be forensically clueless . As seems obligatory he’s a rufty-tufty cop with a disregard for procedure and plays by his own rules which later sees his hard drinking cop brutalising a suspect, having the inevitable marriage breakdown and bickering other cops, here it’s a vegan FBI cop, the antithesis to his hard drinking, red meat munching macho meat head. Big Nick progresses the investigation discovering the gang are led by Merriman played by Pablo Schreiber who, if work ever dries up can rely on employment as an Adam Sandler lookee- likee, and whose right hand man is Enson played by 50 Cent presumably now suitably named due to his recent alleged bankruptcy and Bosco played by Evan Jones who looks like Red Hot Chilli Peppers bass payer Flea with a swollen forehead. Initially it’s hard to take the crew as super crooks seriously but it’s a credit to Schrieber as an actor that he makes, what turns out to be a less than credible robbery slightly more believable. The gang are linked to a string of high profile robberies but this one leaves Butler and his buddies puzzled and its only when he befriends barman Donnie played by O’Shea Jackson, son of Ice Cube (not sure why he did not name his son Icicle but we digress).
Gudegast has written an epic crime drama that owes much to Michael Mann’s superb, ‘Heat’ with a liberal sprinkling of ‘The Usual Suspects’ and a dab of ‘Sicario’ for good measure which is no bad thing so it’s appropriate that many of the characters utter the recurring line, ‘Copy that!’ over their radios.
Running well over two hours the film breezes along with plenty of action to keep audiences happy and an ending that may stretch credibility perhaps a little too far but then there’s enough testosterone sloshing about on screen to keep adrenaline addicts content and restore Butler with a much needed hit after a drought of dross.
Here’s the trailer…….