“Den of Thieves” is pure dynamite. A gripping crime caper where the line between cops and criminals are so brilliantly blurred, the film focuses on a group of bank robbers, who plot to pull off the ultimate heist, and the tenacious determination of the Sheriff’s department to bring them to justice. Set in Los Angeles, which the film states is the Bank Robbery Capital of the World, it kicks off with a violent shoot out right outside a Gardena doughnut shop where an empty armored truck is stolen.
It’s a pre-job for a den of thieves, headed by Ray Merriman (Pablo Schreiber), a paroled leader of a gang of ex-military men who have bigger aspirations to rob the Federal Reserve Bank of downtown Los Angeles. With several officers shot during the robbery, a crime squad unit headed by “Big Nick” O’Brien (Gerard Butler) is dispatched to the crime scene and it’s not long before Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department zero in on Merriman. That’s when the film goes into high-octane gear and becomes a cat and mouse game between the cops and robbers, which ends with an explosive climactic showdown.
With touches of “Heist” and “Heat,” “Dog Day Afternoon” and a little of “The French Connection,” sprinkled in, it’s a complex heist flick with a fantastic twist and marks the directorial debut of screenwriter Christian Gudegast (“Sequestro,” “London Has Fallen”).
Each criminal has a likable side, making it easy to root for their success. From the preternaturally calm Ray Merriman (Schreiber), the disciplined family man and Special Forces explosives expert Enson Levoux (Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson), to the naïve getaway driver Donnie, who is played with perfect pitch by O’Shea Jackson, Jr., it’s an ensemble crime drama which will stand up to repeat viewing.
Filled with plot intricacies, an exciting robbery and a thrilling shootout, it’s a smart, tense film, which will stimulate your adrenal gland. The twists, and turns of the plot are tense, while the ending is genuinely satisfying and surprising. This one gets extra points for a strong and unpredictable conclusion.
“Den of Thieves” releases in theaters Friday January 19
Samantha Ofole-Prince is a journalist and movie critic who covers industry-specific news that includes television and film. She can be reached at email@example.com. Photo credit: Royalty Images