“Den of Thieves” stars Gerard Butler, Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, Pablo Schreiber, and O’Shea Jackson Jr. Released on January 19, 2018, the film has a bank robbery crew planning an impossible heist with an elite police unit on their tail.
The film features the directorial debut of Christian Gudegast, who wrote screenplays for A Man Apart and London Has Fallen. Like 12 Strong, this is another action film from a first-time director that’s hoping to draw in an adult audience. I’ve only known Gerard Butler through his action films, most notably 300 and Olympus Has Fallen, and O’Shea Jackson Jr. has made a really good impression in his movies so far. So now we have the two actors together in the latest film that pits cops against robbers. While far from a perfect heist thriller, it has its moments that will impress some fans of this type of genre.
Gerard Butler leads a solid cast as Nick O’Brien, a Los Angeles sheriff who will stop at nothing to take down a group of robbers lead by Ray Merrimen (played by Schreiber). Butler’s performance was pretty enjoyable because of his execution on embodying a corrupt sheriff whose mission is his only focus and the fact that he didn’t take his role so seriously. Jackson Jr. portrays the skilled driver of the robbery team who happens to get caught in the middle of the rivalry. Compared to his other movies, his performance in this one didn’t have that much of a spark, but he showed off some effort and that’s good enough for me. Christian Gudegast is no stranger to action films when it comes to this. As a director, he was able to envision Los Angeles as a city filled with violence and fear, while also depicting several scenes of gun violence that are thrilling, realistic, and surprisingly well-shot. While the heist sequence doesn’t come in until around the second half of the film, Gudegast was able to get me invested with the characters and the action, even though the former could’ve been developed a lot better. One of the other flaws I had with it was the running time, which is around two hours and 20 minutes. I don’t think this movie needed to be that long to tell a story like this unless they were going for a character-driven heist thriller. Since it felt more like an average shoot-em-up, it can be a minor issue for people who aren’t very comfortable with gun violence and R-rated language. There was this one scene (without spoilers, of course) that is played out only for laughs and has nothing to do with the actual plot. I think if you removed that scene, it probably won’t make that much of a difference, allowing the length to be a bit shorter than it is now.
Overall, “Den of Thieves” offers plenty of thrills and intensity to provide some R-rated entertainment for the adults. The running time felt a bit overlong and its storytelling hasn’t done a whole lot to match the film’s engaging second half, but Gudegast’s directorial debut is suitable for what it is. Nothing more, nothing less. If you like Gerard Butler in some of his other action films, I’m pretty sure that you’ll like him in this as well. If you’re in a mood for an average heist film, then this one’s worth watching.