January 18th, 2018
MOVIE: DEN OF THIEVES
STARRING: GERARD BUTLER; O’SHEA JACKSON; 50 CENT; DAWN OLIVIERI
DIRECTED BY: CHRISTIAN GUDEGAST
AMovieGuy.com’s RATING: 1 STAR (out of 4)
When the audience cheered at the end of Den of Thieves, it made me ponder, maybe this is the movie that the people of earth deserve? Like many other awful things that happen in this depressing world, this is a movie that encompasses every inch of how disgusting life can be. There I was, wondering, how could I get back the painful two hours and twenty minutes I just experienced? This cops and robbers drama starring Gerard Butler has no redeeming traits and a bleak view of everything. Director Christian Gudegast makes two mistakes in his directorial debut: he thinks he’s making the newest version of Michael Mann’s Heat and he wants us to care about some of the scummiest characters ever put together on a movie screen. In fact, Den of Thieves is so vile, it might make you puke.
We open to overhead shots of Los Angeles and mundane text stating, “2,400 bank robberies go unsolved in a year”, attempting to set the stage for what our characters have at stake. All of that info, however, is immediately forgotten when bullets begin to fly, as men in masks lead an intense assault on an armored bank truck, killing guards, cops, and anyone else who gets in their way. The “bad guys” are lead by an ex-marine named Merrimen (Pablo Schreiber), his tough partner Levi (50 Cent), driver Donnie (O’Shea Jackson), and tech-wizard Bosco (Evan Jones). The sheriff put on the case is Big Nick Flanagan (Butler) and his band of corrupt, lawless officers, who will do all it takes to stop this group from scoring their next bank job.
Written by Gudegast and co-writer Paul Scheuring, I have very little to praise. The bad guys murder innocent people. The police officers abuse their power. Every character sucks. Even Butler’s performance is low for his standards, as he slovenly chews donuts, swishes whiskey, or chugs from a milk carton in every other scene. Can this guy not act without feeding himself? When he’s not threatening suspects or cheating on his wife, he’s arguing with the FBI. And if you were expecting anymore depth from these characters…Don’t. What you see is what you get. They’re slobs, abusers, and losers. And what about the women? Well, if you need Exhibit A for how misogynistic Hollywood can be, here it is. Each member of the opposite sex is one of the following professions: prostitute, stripper, or abused wife. Den of Thieves is soaked in so much toxic masculinity, it’s radioactive.
One might argue that I am being too sensitive for a movie of this subject matter, but I would counter that Den of Thieves isn’t sensitive enough. I believe the effort was to make a film in the vein of Denis Villeneuve’s Sicario or Brian De Palma’s The Untouchables, but that would be giving this movie way too much credit. This movie can’t hold a candle to the substance and style in those films. Den of Thieves glorifies gun use, torture tactics on suspects, and has zero appreciation for women. We are mistakenly asked to care for awful people, feel sad when Butler’s character loses his wife and kids after he was the one who cheated, and then Gudegast tries to get away with set pieces, including an Oceans 11 style-heist and a traffic jam shootout where innocent lives are in the cross fires. All of this is asked of us for 140 minutes.
Den of Thieves is easily one of the worst movies of 2018 and the year is young. This is the kind of movie that you get home and take a shower to wash away the filth. I don’t have much else to say about Den of Thieves, I just know that I didn’t deserve this. Frankly, nobody does.
Written by: Leo Brady