Alex Reviews "Den of Thieves"
“You’re not the bad guys…We are.”
This chilling line is used to close the trailer to “Den of Thieves, and it somehow becomes even more disturbing in the context of the film. Treading so delicately between letting the audience know which side are heroes and which side are the villains that one watch through may not be enough to answer this question. And that is a VERY good thing.
The gritty realism of grey storytelling teases you into thinking Big Nick, portrayed by Gerard Butler (300, Geostorm), and his Regulators are dirty cops who must be the villains. Just about as soon as that settles in, we are introduced to the Outlaws, led by criminally brilliant ex-Marine Merrimen, played by the underappreciated Pablo Schreiber (American Gods), whose own band of brothers show a very familial bond that any group could understand. While this whole story plays out, Donnie (played fantastically by O’Shea Jackson, Jr.), a member of the Outlaws, ends up on the hook with the Regulators and has to walk the line between criminal and informant.
Beyond the impressive story, rookie director and writer of the film Christian Gudegast (also responsible for writing London Has Fallen and A Man Apart) frames a picture that pays homage to multiple crime pictures of the past with a veteran’s subtlety. My personal favorite comes towards the end with a moment that could only be described as a nod to some of the great crime mysteries of our time. Also, pay close attention to Ziggy (the bar owner), who is veteran actor Eric Braeden, who has been on the soap opera The Young and the Restless for the past 38 years and is the father of the director.
At 2 hours and 20 minutes and an estimated 14 years in development, a rookie director, a relatively unknown cast (aside from Butler and 50 Cent), and releasing post-holiday season, there are a lot of red flags that would typically indicate this should have been a bad movie. Luckily, it bucks all of those trends, and I eagerly await the Blu-Ray release to see what Easter eggs I missed and the apparent tactical training that went into this unique picture.