By Jack Rico
The 2-8-0: #DenofThieves sets the bar on how action films need to be this year! It has high-speed chases, shootouts, and an unforgettable ending. This is one of Gerard Butler’s most entertaining films.
The Gist: Den of Thieves is a gritty Los Angeles crime story that goes in depth on the most unconventional yet elite unit of the LA County Sheriff’s Dept. and the state’s most successful robbers as they plan the ultimate heist －to break into the Federal Reserve Bank.
What Works: We were a bit skeptical after the trailer, at first it seemed way too predictable. Action movies that have the bank robber trope mainly focus on just the heist part; the planning, fooling the police, and finally the execution of said heist. Den of Thieves proved us wrong. What really works in this film is how intricate it is, the audience gets to know each and every single one of the criminals and the Sheriff’s Dept., learn their lives, their history’s, and why they’re doing this. We see how families are torn apart and how some work even harder to keep this part of their lives hidden from them.The line of rooting for the “good guys” is blurred within seconds. You’ll be surprised by how much you want the “bad guys” to succeed.
This film took six years to get to the big screen, and thankfully in those six years, the perfect cast was assembled. This might be Gerard Butler’s best role up to date, “Big” Nick O’Brien is the leader of the Regulators (Sheriff’s Dept.), the alpha wolf. His methods are unconventional, to say the least, but he dons this role so well; he doesn’t break character not even once, and we’re talking about a character whose moral compass is the worst of the worst. He’ll stop at nothing to stop the Outlaws. The way he just commands dominance without saying a word will leave you in awe, not to mention the emotional rollercoaster that he will take you on, from busting a heist to trying to salvage his marriage.
“You’re not the bad guys, we are.”
– Gerard Butler as “Big” Nick O’Brien.
O’Shea Jackson Jr. is the true scene stealer. At first, you think of his character, Donnie, as a wallflower, or the weakest link of the Regulators, he’s a bartender by day and their getaway driver by night, but he will prove you wrong. His character is one that’s hard to read, but that’s why we loved him so much. He’s full of surprises. Pablo Schreiber plays the perpetually calm ring-leader, Merrimen, thanks to him the Outlaws run with military precision, nothing gets past him. Merrinmen’s fellow Outlaws include none other than Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, who takes on the role his right-hand man, Enson Levoux, a disciplined family man. The last twenty minutes of the movie is the actual heist, as compared to how some films are all about the heist and just the heist as we mentioned above. They left the best for last, you’ll have to remind yourself to blink while this is going down, especially during the shootout scene on the interstate. We were on the edge of our seat and collective “ooh’s,” were heard all around.
“The only bank that’s never been robbed…that’s why we’re gonna rob it.”
–Pablo Schreider as Merrimen
What Doesn’t Work: Although the last 20 minutes of the movie were action-packed, there were brief intervals where things could’ve been tied together better. More than once did we think to ourselves, “Just shoot already!” it was those moments that took away from the action of the biggest scene of the film.
Pay or Nay: Pay. Definitely, pay. What really sticks out from this movie is how easily the line between good and bad gets blurred and that reflects in today’s society. Not everything is as it seems. This is not a showdown between forces of good and evil, it’s a face-off based on skill and equally matched opposition. Even though it is an action-packed film, there are witty one-liners, mostly provided by Butler’s dry humor, and a hilarious scene at the Levoux residence. This is one of the first action films of the year and you definitely won’t want to miss it.