Den of Thieves: Where Is the Tape?
Gerard ButlerO'Shea Jackson Jr....
Action & AdventureCrime
In 10 Cinemas
A character trait here, a scene there, a heist concept, and a rolling camera; there we have it, a film is born (look Frankenstein, it’s alive)! Den of Thieves is an action crime film starring Gerard Butler, Pablo Schreiber and 50 Cent; it is directed and co-written by Christian Gudegast. The film revolves around a clash between a gangster-like special cop unit, led by Gerard Butler (Nick O’Brien), and a bank robbing crew, consisting of ex marines, and led by Ray Merriman (Ray Merrimen).
The film’s plot alone is exciting, with its trailer promising a captivating breath holder of an action film. Indeed, the film’s opening scenes are ones that involve intense action sequences, with the robbers methodically executing a heist. Arriving in medias res, audiences were intrigued, and left to ponder about the events unfolding before them; the crew is dressed like robbers with their gas masks and machine guns, but they communicate like a SWAT unit.
The opening scene was perhaps the only original part of the film, with the rest of the film largely being a mash up of different films. More specifically, the concept of stealing old and unfit bills from banks is taken from the film Mad Money; the scene in which one of the crew member hides in a box filled with money is taken from Ocean’s Eleven; the scene in which the cop father scares away his daughter’s prom date, with the help of his buddies, is directly taken from Bad Boys II. The film goes on for a whooping and slow-paced two hours and fifteen minutes. The overuse of gun scenes, and the agonizingly prolonged pace of the film, made for several “when is this movie going to end?” moments.
Gerard Butler’s character portrayal is exquisite. Even though the character (Nick O’Brien) is not a fully developed one – in terms of both writing and directing – Butler’s employment of small gestures and mannerisms make O’Brien somewhat real and relatable. We have to say, however, that many of O’Brien’s mannerisms are copied from other protagonists. For example, O’Brien’s constant eating is a mannerism copied from Brad Pitt’s character in the Ocean series, the idea of the workaholic cop who loses his family as a result, is copied from the Die Hard franchise, etc. All in all, despite the fact that O’Brien is basically a reincarnated version of the ghosts of all these too familiar characters, Butler still manages to keep audiences interested with his portrayal of O’Brien.
All the other characters/actors, however, fade into the background. Ray Merriman (Pablo Schreiber), for example, is only set apart when O’Brien keeps mentioning his past, and his skill set. The rest of the cast is barely noticeable: they become mere talking heads throughout the film’s progression.
Taping and stitching together different parts from different films makes for a mediocre feature, especially when accompanied by bad acting, intermediate level directing, underdeveloped characters, and unoriginal writing. While the film did have potential, it simply fell short when it came to execution. Gerard Butler – and cinema goers – need to choose more wisely next time.