Action Crime

'Den of Thieves' Film Review: In this game of cops and robbers, the line between good and bad is drawn in shades of grey

January 18, 2018Britany Murphy

It's heist artists versus law enforcement in Den of Thieves, and although justice must be served, it is hard to tell who to trust and just who the bad guys truly are. This is one of the movie's lingering questions, and it is also one of the most exciting aspects of this new take on the cat-and-mouse thriller.

The film begins by letting the audience know that Southern California is the bank robbery capital of the world, listing the statistics concerning how many robberies happen each day in that particular region of America before we see a group of masked men robbing an armored truck. But it does not all go as planned, and the thieves — Ray Merriman (Pablo Schreiber), Enson Levoux (Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson), Donnie Wilson (O'Shea Jackson Jr.) and Bosco Ostroman (Evan Jones) — lose one of their gang of Outlaws, while one of the responding police officers is killed when Bosco mistakenly believes the officer is reaching for his gun.

Enter the Los Angeles Police Department and some of the most devious cops on their payroll — namely "Big" Nick O'Brien (Gerard Butler) and his Regulators, Tony Zapata (Kaiwi Lyman-Mersereau), Gus Henderson (Mo McRae), Murphy "Murph" Collins (Brian Van Holt) and Benny "Borracho" Magalon (Maurice Compte). Only on the scene for mere moments, Nick doesn't waste any time wreaking havoc, contaminating the evidence and getting into a bit of a skirmish with an FBI agent named Golightly (Jordan Bridges). Nick tells Golightly that he has everything under control, and then he and his team leave to discuss the prime suspects in the case.

Meanwhile, Ray and his crew try to figure out the next steps in their plan to rob the Los Angeles branch of the Federal Reserve of $30 million, while Nick experiences turmoil in his own life, which is spiraling out of control due to his selfishness and his neglect of his wife, Debbie (Dawn Olivieri), and their two daughters. Not only is Nick on thin ice at home, the same goes for his work, which begs the question — will Nick be able to find a solution to his woes? Or will the house of cards he has built come tumbling down around him, as a reckoning for this sins of his past and his current misdeeds?

Directed by Christian Gudegast, who shares the screenwriting credit with Paul Scheuring, Den of Thieves is not your typical heist movie. Of course, there is no shortage of action set-pieces involving hostage-taking and armed standoffs, but the film spends a good amount of time giving viewers a behind-the-scenes looks into to the work put in by both the Ray's crew and Nick's. In this regard, the performances from Butler, Schreiber and Jackson are great. They're all very believable in their roles, while Olivieri's turn as Nick’s distressed wife is scene-stealing, with terrific chemistry between her and Butler as well. The tension the pair generate in their scenes together is palpable, as is the animosity her character feels toward his. However, this is not the biggest surprise of the movie.

What makes Den of Thieves noticeably different from other films in the genre is the fact that we get to see inside the lives of the major players on both sides. We're privy to their family dynamics and how their decisions directly affect the ones they love, for better or worse. Ultimately, it makes for a thrilling roller coaster ride, and it allows viewers to take a step back to reassess the situation and reevaluate who the "bad guys" really are.

Den of Thieves releases January 19th, 2018 from VVS Films. The film has an MPAA rating of R for violence, language and some sexuality/nudity. Its runtime is 2 hrs. 20 min.

You May Also Like