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'Den Of Thieves' is gritty, meticulous, and features a career best turn from Gerard Butler

It does overstretch itself, but nowhere near enough to ruin proceedings
Gerard Butler in Den Of Thieves
[Image: STX Films]

‘Den Of Thieves’

Director: Christian Gudegast

Starring: Gerard Butler, Pablo Schreiber

Rating: R

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4 (Out Of 5) Globes

Plot: Ray Merrimen (Pablo Schreiber) is one of the most talented, intelligent, and sought after bank robbers in Los Angeles. Merrimen builds a crew, which includes Donnie (O’Shea Jackson Jr.) and Levi (Curtis Jackson) to pull off the seemingly impossible heist of Los Angeles’ Federal Reserve Bank. Breathing down his neck is Big Nick (Gerard Butler), a corrupt L.A.P.D. officer intent on bringing them down, who is following their every move. 

Review: When you consider the critical shellacking that Gerard Butler’s most recent films have almost exclusively received it’s understandable that "Den Of Thieves" is being looked at with some trepidation.

But this is a different beast to the usual overly loud and overly stupid mainstream releases of Butler’s past. This is a pet project that Butler has been invested in for years, and both the film and the character of Big Nick have seemingly been designed around getting the best out of the Scottish actor.

It works, too, because Butler inhabits the imposing tour-de-force of a human being in such a powerful fashion that it immediately elevates "Den Of Thieves."

There are other reasons why "Den Of Thieves" delivers, though, as co-writer and director Christian Gudegast presents the world of the criminals, officers, and the heist itself with such meticulous detail that you are pulled closer and closer in. Gugedast thrives on his first film, building the story patiently, showing an eye for action and suspense, and, in tandem with cinematographer Terry Stacey, making L.A. sizzle and allure. 

The fact that the line between good and evil is completely blurred also allows "Den Of Thieves" to take surprising twists and go in directions you never expected.

Of course its similarities to "Heat" mean that comparison are inevitable. But "Den Of Thieves" borrows wisely from the Michael Mann classic, as well as other similar films, and manages to feel familiar but never predictable. Come its conclusion you might feel as though "Den Of Thieves" has overstretched itself, while there are also various strands its 140 minute running time could have done without.

But it never drags, and is ultimately an eye-opening, hugely enjoyable, and worthy addition to the crime heist genre.