Watching the trailer for Den of Thieves, this film was only going one of two ways. A throwback to past era action/heist movies or a complete disaster starring 50 Cent. Gerald Bulter, 50 Cent, Ice Cube’s son…not the lineup you are expecting from a smash hit. Gerald Bulter has been in some terrible films lately. I mean, a paycheck is a paycheck, but man does this guy needs a new agent. But hell, there aren’t many options this week and I’m going in with the lowest of expectations so let’s see what this tale of semi-dirty cops can do.
Set in the
shithole known as ‘Los Angeles’, LA is home to the most bank robberies in the country (Allegedly, I can’t confirm that) and on cue, we have a well-organized group of thieves that steal an empty armored truck with a few dead cops along the way. This gets the attention of “Big Nick” O’Brien (Bulter) who has his own group of cops known for shooting and not arresting. When word gets around of a big heist in the works at the Federal Reserve, both groups race to one-up the other, leading to an inevitable showdown amongst cliques.
I won’t pull your string, the first 20 minutes of this film are ROUGH. A number of things bothered me. First, the film is set in Los Angeles, but it is clearly Atlanta. Maybe this wasn’t jarring for some people, but it really hard for someone who spent 6 ½ years in Atlanta, lives 2 hours from Los Angeles, watches this film to see the exact location of my old school and go “Yep this is Los Angeles”. Second, continuity.
This was pointed out to me only minutes into the film. The robbers bust out a windshield and steal an armored car, a few minutes later, the truck is shown with the windshield intact…oops. The dialogue at times is piss poor as well, there are some REALLY bad lines in the 1st act. So bad the audience laughs when they aren’t supposed to. For a near two and a half hour film, that first 20 minutes desperately needs some cutting and polishing.
Fortunately for audiences, once the movie gets going it improves tremendously. O’Shea Jackson Jr. is the surprise standout as he is quickly becoming one of the most promising young actors in Hollywood. Jackson provides the most relatable character of them all and makes for an interesting twist in the film’s end. 50 Cent’s lines are kept short and sweet. Pablo Schreiber is actually a pretty solid leading bad guy, I’m not sure if he’s ready to carry a film on his own yet, but in the right roles, he has been great. Gerald Bulter does what he is good at; doing the best he can to add some character to a bad script.
When we get to the big heist, the film becomes the serviceable B action movie my lowest expectations thought it would be. The biggest problem is that there is a movie to like and a movie to hate in the same film. The runtime of 140 minutes is too long given the pointless scenes like 50 Cent scaring his daughter’s prom date or Butler’s wife being introduced for the sole reason for them getting divorced. The large part of the blame falls on the editor Joel Cox because if he knew what to dump on the cutting room floor, Den of Thieves could have been a surprise hit in the month of January. Instead is ultimately is a wait for Redbox Friday Night Flick.