Den of Thieves



19 January 2018| No Comments on Den of Thieves     by Sean Chavel



Den of Thieves is such a flagrant rip-off of the 1995 modern classic “Heat” that it leaves one to count off the good qualities and the bad. Recapturing the grainy neo-neon look is one of the good qualities, and there are a few ephemeral good qualities. It’s fine to work in the same tradition of a modern classic, and for awhile it seems to take a promising route. The streetwise dialogue is occasionally overwritten but otherwise plausibly nitty-gritty. However, in order to be different, “Den of Thieves” takes the blueprint of “Heat,” overworks it to death, and then tries to pile on many twists in an effort to outdo its intended predecessor. By the one hour and eight minute mark, I had to take a couple minutes break because I was laughing too hard at it. There’s such a thing as trying too hard to impress.

The gang of robbers have their sights on knocking off the Federal Reserve Bank of the Los Angeles branch (there’s a few minutes of genuine suspense that shortly redeems some of the earlier mess of a movie), and this is one of those cases where everything clicks into place for the robbers except for an escape route that stalls them into traffic deadlock long enough for an obligatory “Heat” like shoot-out with the cops to happen. Instead of running towards the front of the traffic line to hijack another car, the robbers disperse into a junkyard with no likelihood of an exit plan. All of this turns out to be the least of the script’s problems, anyway.

Before the overheated heist, Gerard Butler plays the over-the-top a-hole detective whose plan is somehow to tick off the bad guys, make them aware of his presence, incite them to fire their weapons first, before he goes in for any takedown move. Pablo Schreiber is Merriman, the ringleader of the heist, and although the entire character is too forced a concoction he might be an actor down the line worth watching – he does his damnedest to bring obsession and attracted-to-danger layers to his performance.

A swaggering Gerard Butler who mistreats his wife and behaves capriciously around others on and off duty is by no means more compelling than Al Pacino’s work, by the way. When the rehashing of the “Heat” script blueprint becomes too obvious, writer-director Christian Gudegast decides to rip-off “Inside Man” and “The Usual Suspects” and thinks we might not notice. The thought process might have been this: The target audience is likely short attention span moviegoers who never saw any of those titles. For the most of us, “Den of Thieves” is rehash pandemonium. It’s almost watchable, as I tried to forgive it as it took some storytelling leaps. But there’s too many bad twists, that added up, inevitably just left me in disgust. So what scene made me laugh so hard, you were asking? Having sex with your adversary’s wife just to irk everybody is not honest police work, it’s simply a case of sociopathic destruction — not to mention, impossible to swallow.

140 Minutes. Yes, it is actually 140 minutes. Rated R.


Film Cousins: “To Live and Die in L.A.” (1985); “Heat” (1995); “Harsh Times” (2005); “Sabotage” (2014).

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Sean Chavel

About The Author / Sean Chavel

Sean Chavel is a Hollywood based author and movie reviewer. He is the Executive Director of, a new website that has adapted the movie review site genre by introducing moodbased and movie experience based reviews.


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