‘Den of Thieves’, criminally clichéd
There are dozens of movies that delve into the criminal psyche. They take predators and monsters and turn them into people. The best of these movies take a man of the law and an outlaw, places them side by side and bets you can't spot the difference.
Many of these movies are intelligent, thrilling and inspire debate about the nature of crime and how society deals with it by simply trying to 'stop corruption' ... ignoring the systematic nature of the issue. Others are like Den of Thieves, remarkably stupid.
Normally, this is where I would tell you the nature of the plot, the characters, their motivations. The works. I have a problem though. Den of Thieves has hardly any of that. There is one character you might not forget as soon as you leave the cinema, and that's Nick O'Brien, played by Gerard Butler. He's the ruthless supercop with a killer success rate. He's the foil to the more likable characters in the film, the titular thieves, who are planning to rob a federal reserve.
While character and story are completely lacking, there is something to be said for the movies, bright spots of ingenuity. Okay, that may be overselling it, but there are elements of this movie that I liked. Though I couldn't tell you why they were doing what they were doing, the criminals in this film were entertaining to watch. It's not quite Dom's Fast and Furious family, but there's enough of a brotherhood established that you root for them to succeed.
What Den of Thieves does best is action. Right down to the minute detail, the movie has near-exceptional action scenes. When it comes to the big heist at the end of the film, the affair is tense and full of surprises. For the moments where guns come into play, the film has some of the most brutal and unsettling gunfights I've seen in a long time. Closing your eyes won't make a difference, as the movie's sound design is perhaps it's greatest weapon. Gunshots sound like they should. - chilling and frightful
Though it's not a complete wash, so much of Den of Thieves has been done before and done better. This is a film for when you're in the mood for something hyper serious, but also incredibly goofy.