Den of Thieves: A daft drunken cousin to films like Heat

Review: You’ll need a high tolerance of meat-heads to enjoy this film

Den of Thieves
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Director: Christian Gudegast
Cert: 15A
Genre: Action
Starring: Gerard Butler, 50 Cent, Pablo Schreiber, O'Shea Jackson Jr., Evan Jones, Dawn Olivieri, Mo McRae, Max Holloway
Running Time: 2 hrs 20 mins

Make like Lot’s wife. Don’t think. Eyes in front. Don’t falter. Even the slightest twitch of cranial activity will ruin Christian Gudegast’s silly caper.

Den of Thieves desperately wants to be Heat or The Killer when it grows up. Instead it's a daft, distant, drunken cousin to those pictures, but if you studiously avoid thinking about it, you can at least enjoy its moronic antics.

The action unfolds as an Anchorman news team battle between cops and robbers. The cops are – wait for it – even more lawless than their targets. They are a hard-drinking, hard-partying, hard-bodied crew led by a growling Gerard Butler, who stands one eye-patch and wooden leg shy of being a full-blown Pirates of the Caribbean. "Do we look like the types that'll arrest you?" aaaarghs Butler. "We'll just shoot you."

They’re lone wolves. Except in a group. Which one of his guys is Brick? We never find out: the equivalent teams idea gets lost when Gudegast’s screenplay fails to differentiate the players.


We do know that the bad guys are led by Orange is the New Black's Pablo Schreiber, and include 50 Cent and O'Shea Jackson Jr. The bad guys may rob banks, but, in a non-shock twist, otherwise look to be far more upstanding citizens than the crooks.

“You’re not the bad guys,” stomps Butler: “We are.” Got it.

Best ever robbers

To paraphrase mammies everywhere, if you have nothing nice to say, don’t bother including the nothing female characters, which here run to three minutes of nagging wife, obedient call girls, a shared lap-dancer, and 10 seconds of teenage daughter.

The latter is going to prom, but not until her dad (50 Cent, who is a good deal more convincing than he was while playing 50 Cent in Get Rich or Die Tryin') and his steroidal buddies surround her unfortunate date in an assertion of their sexual propriety.

Anyways, these bank robbers are, like, the best ever bank robbers; it’s almost as if they’ve taken over the warren of underground tunnels that allowed Gerard Butler to disappear and reappear in jail, court, the mayor’s office, and the zoo (probably) and are now using them against the Scottish star.

The titular thieves (Or are they? Huh? Huh?) have hatched the plan of plans to rob the bank of banks. Their heist and capering is appealingly spliced together by Clint Eastwood's regular editor, Joel Cox. But you'll need pixie dust, a stable of suspended disbelief, and a high tolerance of meat-headedness to get along with the rest. Watch out for the dim and wholly unnecessary twist. Eyes in front.

Tara Brady

Tara Brady

Tara Brady, a contributor to The Irish Times, is a writer and film critic