Review: Den of Thieves – the fast and the serious.

The movie Heat has got to be one of the most influential movies out there. The bank robbery and the shootout towards the end is one for the books, as well as getting two legends (Pacino and DeNiro) to act opposite each other. The movie has inspired a lot of filmmakers to try and emulate the movie since.  Some have tried but none have been as good as Heat. Which brings us to this week’s new release: Den of Thieves.

Den of Thieves starts out with a few statistics about how California is the bank robbery capital of the world as we follow an armored truck to a stop. As soon as the truck stops, California lives up to its reputation of being robbed again. What follows is almost exactly how Robert DeNiro and his team took down an armored truck in Heat. We’ve seen it before but it’s always exciting to see how these guys execute their objective.

The thieves, who are led by Merrimen (Pablo Schreiber) come off more like what Dominic Torretto could’ve been if he had embraced his dark side. These guys don’t have any agenda besides taking the money and look for the next score.

Pablo Schreiber as Merrimen

On the other side of the law, you get Big Nick (Gerard Butler) and his team of cops who aren’t here to fuck around. They’re here to bring down the bad guys and they don’t bring handcuffs. There is even an exchange between Nick and a bank robber talking about how they’re not going back to jail and him retorting with not bringing handcuffs. Nick and his team aren’t dirty cops but they aren’t very moral when it comes to their personal lives. They act like rock stars and could give two shits if they’re served with divorce papers.

After being introduced to the characters Nick and his team get ahold of Donnie (O’Shea Jackson) and squeeze him for information of when the next robbery is going to be and who they are dealing with. What follows is a game of cat and mouse between Nick and Merriman and a lot of macho posturing between the two characters. In a movie like this, both actors need to bring it and they do.

O’Shea Jackson Jr as Donnie

Den of Thieves does feel like it is trying to be like Heat but also feels a bit like Fast and the Furious if it had stayed grounded with Merriman in the Diesel role and Butler taking on The Rock’s role. It’s a bit of fresh air to see a trashy movie knowing exactly what it is. The actors in the movie are pretty good with what they get, Schreiber showing he’s a force to be reckoned, 50 Cent is actually pretty good when he doesn’t say much or when he’s not the main star and O’Shea Jackson continues to show what a talent he is. Jackson definitely looks like his dad but I gotta say the son is the better actor. Butler continues to be good in everything he does; you can tell he loves to do these kind of movies that make him look like a badass. If this were the 80’s, Butler would be a perfect meld of Bruce Willis and Mickey Rourke and would be a bigger star than he is now.

Directed by first timer Christian Gudagest, having written London Has Fallen (a movie nobody liked but me) and also A Man Apart, it feels like he is right at home with this kind of story. Can’t wait to see what else he can do.

Den of Thieves isn’t going to win any awards at all and that’s cool, nor will it be considered a classic like Heat but it is an interesting entry in that the bank robbery genre.

Den of Thieves is out now and in theaters everywhere, so have fun.

Catch Mando on Twitter at @manbat33 when he’s not co-hosting the @TalentedSlacker podcast!