This so wants to be this generation’s version of the Robert De Niro/Al Pacino-starring Heat – but ends up more on a par with something like Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Sabotage.
It does have its tense heist moments and sparks of ingenuity though, so it’s still worth entering this den if you’re an action die-hard – or a Gerard Butler fan.
Butler – who will surely soon be completely taking the action man mantle from Liam Neeson – stars as the head of an elite unit at the LA County Sheriff’s Dept, who are trailing a successful bank robbery crew after they turn into cop killers.
Den’s tag line is ‘which side would you choose’, but despite Butler’s heavily-stereotyped fag-smoking, booze-swilling, stripper-loving, hard case – who you see going through a divorce with wife Holly (Meadow Williams) in a rushed sub plot – there’s never really any doubt that it’s the cops you’re rooting for.
That’s despite Orange is the New Black’s Pablo Schreiber – arguably the best thing about the movie – proving to be a noteworthy villain of the piece, as he leads a gang of outlaws – that includes Straight Outta Compton’s O’Shea Jackson Jr and Curtis ‘50 Cent’ Jackson – on a seemingly impossible heist, with Butler’s ‘Big Nick’ and co on their tail.
Despite it trying so hard to be ‘gangsta’ Den of Thieves never really gets it flow on throughout – interspersed with misplaced back stories like 50 Cent’s daughter’s prom boyfriend shake down bizarrely thrown in – and has more of a grizzled bark than a coherent bite.
But the final third – with a twist ending that isn’t quite as clever as it thinks it is – is enjoyable edge-of-your-seat stuff, that does throw a few decent nods to the likes of Michael Mann’s aforementioned Heat.
Like Butler’s character, it’s a bit rough round the edges, but with a few noteworthy moments you won’t feel robbed if you throw ten bucks at it.
Cast: Gerard Butler, Pablo Schreiber, O’shea Jackson Jr, Curtis ‘50 Cent’ Jackson, Meadow Williams, Evan Jones, Mo Mcrae, Marcus Lavoi & Kaiwi Lyman
Running Time: 2 Hrs 20 Mins
Director: Christian Gudegast
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