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Den of Thieves (dir. Gudegast)

Image: 50 Cent & O’Shea Jackson Jr. in Den of Thieves. © Photograph by Daniel McFadden. Property of STX Entertainment [Source: IMDB]

★★☆☆☆

In LA a group of professional criminals has gone unchecked and uncaptured for decades. After their latest preparation for a next heist goes wrong, local LAPD Crime unit dedicated to stopping bank robberies stumbles onto a clue. Nick (Gerard Butler) leader of the controversial crime unit leads an unchecked and unadulterated manhunt for the group.

Director: Christian Gudegast. Starring: Gerard Butler, O’Shea Jackson Jr, 50 Cent [15]

Den of Thieves does more than wear its influences on its sleeve, it downright follows beat for beat the clear attempt to remake/modernise Michael Mann’s Heat (1995) and it has to be said, it does an okay job of doing it. The most pivotal component of a film such as this is the action, to which Den of Thieves does a very good job of, the bank heist and enjoyably lengthy shootouts are tense and thrilling and shot with competency. There is also a decent attempt to make these characters complex, no side is hailed as heroes over the other and nobody through the film is demonized, there are no good guys versus bad guys in Den of Thieves, adding to the tenacity of the action.

What Den of Thieves fails miserably to capture from Heat is the gravitas not only from Pacino and DeNiro but in its character development and characterisation also. Gerard Butler’s character is the bad cop stereotype cranked up way past 11, hilariously bad clichéd antics and bored story development that comes across as if writer/director Gudegast cared little for originality which sadly seems to be evidently clear. With scenes mirroring exactly scenes from different movies, such as a misplaced and unnatural scene in which 50 Cent’s daughter is being taken to prom, which not only copies exactly the scene from Bad Boys 2 (Bay. 2003) but with a little twist of flavour but also gives this scene to a character who so far has said little to no lines and been on-screen for under five minutes.

To an extent there is nothing wrong with mirroring scenes from different movies, Tarantino has built a career off of it, the problem lies in not using them effectively, which is ever-present in the film’s climax in which everything the film has built itself on is almost taken away by its attempt to pull the rug from under the audience. Which just makes it clear that there is little attention or care given to the characters, they are complex but sadly lack believable characterisation as well as gripping development, instead, we get a fairly box standard action film that does little to stylize itself.

Den of Thieves attempts to modernise and give Heat a twist of flavour, but all this results in is a fairly competent action film with tense and thrilling shootouts, falling flat on its face as it pays little care to its characters and style. Resulting in a somewhat dull and formulaic film that might be worth it if you are just looking for unlayered and uninteresting action but overall it’s all bark and no bite.

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