Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Den Of Thieves Movie Review: A Slambang Action Extravaganza With Well Choreographed Gunfights And Showdowns Sure To Please Action Lovers

GERALD BUTLER of “300” and “Olympus Has Fallen” comes up with another hardhitting action extravaganza about good cops and bad cops in “Den of Thieves”, directed by Christian Gudegast who wrote the script of “London Has Fallen” (sequel to “Olympus”). This time, the action is set in Los Angeles, considered to be the bank robbery capital of the world with a bank heist happening every 48 hours. Stats show that it has more bank robberies than any other city on this planet.

One bank that has never been victimized by robbers Federal Reserve Bank of L.A. so it becomes the target of a group of high tech criminals who considers it as the ultimate challenge. When an empty armored car is hijacked outside a doughnut shop by force, that results into a slaughter, dedicated street cop Nick (Butler) smells something fishy and starts investigating what really happened.

Nick is the type of law enforcer who is willing to take short cuts and bend rules just to accomplish his purpose. When asked why he shot a scumbag, he says: “We just shot him. Less paper work.” The mastermind of the armored car hijack turns out to be another cop, Ray Merrimen (Pablo Schreiber), who has organized his own elite team to rob the Federal Bank. Merrimen has done several daring bank robberies before but his aim to steal $30 million from the Federal Reserve bank is his most brazen so far.

The story of the bad cops run side by side with that of the good cops. Nick tries his best to stop a crime he cannot fully figure out yet, while the robbers plotting the crime are relentless in their desire to carry out their high-tech mission to rob the bank. It becomes a match of wits between them, but eventually, the two paths will eventually converge and their explosive showdown is truly exciting and deadly.

The shootouts are all well choregraphed and executed, turning the city into a war zone and the movie, into a modern urbanized western. But the film is a bit long at 2 hours and 20 minutes, so to add to the drama, there’s an interesting subplot concerning Gerald’s problematic marriage with his wife, Debbie (Dawn Olivieri), who’s had enough of his irresponsible ways so she leaves him and takes their two daughters with her.

This is intended to help flesh out Gerald’s character by giving him a family life. Because his home life is a mess, Nick is prone to temperamental outbursts, but it somewhat halts the action that would have been better if it were wall-to-wall action set pieces of chase scenes and gun fights that feature some real scary hardware especially for Americans in these days of rampant shooting all over their country.

But overall, it’s an enjoyable genre film that offers a helluva lot of fun for action lovers, full of testosterone and macho posturings. It effectively uses most of the tropes that viewers have come to expect in action flicks and gets the job done quite decently, with one final twist in the end. It’s somewhat reminiscent of the 1995 movie, “Heat”, by Michael Mann with Robert de Niro as the bad cop and Al Pacino as the good one trying to thwart his actions.

Butler and Schreiber are no de Niro and Pacino, but they’re competent enough in their respective roles, leading a fine ensemble cast. But the scene-stealer here is O’Shea Jackson Jr., who plays one of Schreiber’s men. He is the apparent dupe in the caper, the driver of the bad guys who poses as a delivery man of Chinese food. In case you are not aware, he’s the real life son of rapper Ice Cube first seen in the hit “Straight Outa Compton”.


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