By Ceara Kelly, Contributor
[Diamond Film; 2018]
Usually, a heist movie is everything viewers want for a cheesy, over the top and completely unbelievable action flick. The creators behind Den of Thieves took the genre a tad too seriously, by pulling a heist of their own and tricking viewers out of their money. The movie was advertised as a fast paced thriller, aiming to keep you on the edge of your seat until the very end. Instead, the only thing that keeps you on the edge of your seat is the desire to leave.
Christian Gudegast’s directorial premier was exactly what you expect from someone who’s last big credit was London Has Fallen. The movie opens with a ten minute gunfight outside of a donut shop as the thieves hijack a bank van, losing one of their own in the process. The complete lack of dialogue outside of repeated swearing and arguing over whether the cop dropped his coffee or was reaching for his gun made it hard to feel anything but envy of the man who was allowed out of this disaster early.
The opening sequences only get more ridiculous as we watch Gerard Butler’s character eat a bloody donut from the crime scene and angrily accuse an FBI agent of being a vegetarian (he’s a vegan, thank you very much). In hopes to progress the story in a way the dialogue never can accomplish, poorly placed subtitles play across the scene. The only thing they manage to accomplish is confusing the audience when they appear ten minutes into the location or character they refer to. It took forty five minutes to realize Merriman was the criminal mastermind and not some neighborhood where the donut shop was.
For those viewers who want more than guns in their action flicks, there is something more. Gudegast makes sure we have a reason to sympathize with Butler’s character, a self-admitted trigger-happy cop, by putting him through a divorce. The audience is expected to feel something for him even though he sabotages his home life by cheating on his wife and being a perpetually drunk. How are we ever supposed to like him? Having the wife only be named in passing really helped add to the lack of caring created with each passing scene.
While Butler’s story continues to accomplish nothing but frustration, Donnie’s (played by O’Shea Jackson Jr.) plays out as a disappointment. The young getaway driver introduces a sliver of hope to the story with his compelling backstory and motives, but unfortunately falls as flat as everything else. Despite the film ultimately culminating around his fate, the character has little to no development and serves as little more than a punching bag for the characters of both sides for the majority of the movie.
The movie continues at a sluggish pace and is nearly halfway over before the heist is even mentioned. Instead, we watch as 50 Cent sends his daughter to prom and grabs sushi with his fellow robbers. In the meantime, the cops continue to show how little they care about the law, leaving you wandering why on earth you’re supposed to root for them. When the heist finally occurs, it is the most boring of sequences you can possibly sit through, lasting around 20 minutes. The gun battle that follows is somewhat exciting, but ends quickly as Gudegast realizes he wasted the whole movie with uncomfortably long close-ups.
Even if the plot was good, it still wouldn’t have made it past the painfully awkward cinematography and questionable acting decisions. The worst crime committed in this entire film was the money it tricks unsuspecting moviegoers out of, and the unfortunate waste of an afternoon.
Watch the trailer here: