Plot: Los Angeles is the capital of bank robberies, as well as the home of the most effective, elusive heist crew around. Merrimen (Pablo Schreiber) is the head of this squad and executed some complex, successful robberies, all of which have remained unsolved. He has been in prison on unrelated charges for a while and in that time, no other high end heists have been reported. Now he is out and his crew just hijacked an armored truck, but this one was empty. A violent shootout went down at the scene, which attracted the attention of Big Nick (Gerard Butler), the loose cannon captain of the major crimes division. He picks up Donnie (O’Shea Jackson, Jr.), a bartender with a reputation for insane driving skills, who also happens to be connected to Merrimen’s crew. Now Big Nick and Merrimen are locked in a showdown that escalates by the minute, but which side will win out in the end?
Entertainment Value: Den of Thieves is two and a half hours of testosterone, gun porn, latent homoeroticism, and dick measuring. Welcome back, action movies. This is a glorious return to the days of big, bad ass action movies that feature hyper masculine, larger than life personas. The movie is well over two hours, but has no slow stretches and never drags in the least, despite covering a lot of exposition and character driven developments. That’s not to say Den of Thieves is a deep, thought provoking kind of experience, but for a big, loud action movie, it does take more time than usual to flesh out the characters. The dynamic between Gerard Butler and Pablo Schreiber drives the movie and is a lot of fun to watch, as the escalation is well executed and the payoff is beyond epic. Butler is fantastic here, as a swinging dick renegade cop with a ton of inner demons, while Pablo Schreiber is a more controlled, but still ruthless criminal, quite an interesting duel here. The movie borrows from Heat, but come on, Heat is one of the best action/heist pictures around, so it makes sense. I also know some will deride that women are minimized here and the movie is soaked in toxic masculinity, but sometimes you just want a bad ass, testosterone charged action movie. I had an absolute blast with this movie and for action fans longing for a return to the days of hard charging genre work, Den of Thieves is a most welcome arrival.
No nakedness. The movie visits a strip club and has some sexually driven moments, but no naked flesh is visible. This one is loaded with violence of all kinds, but the actual bloodshed isn’t that rampant. The shoot outs, fights, and acts of domination result in some crimson, but nothing graphic. Gun shots yield mostly CGI splashes, though up close wounds look impressive and effective. The action here is relentless and visceral, thanks in part to the excellent sound design, which hammers home each round and zipping bullet. The finale especially makes you feel like you’re right in the crossfire, one of the best shoot outs in recent cinema. The gun battles here just feel authentic, as if there’s weight to the unloading of rounds and impact when the bullets land. Impressive, old school action here. The dialogue here is amped up, pissing contests between jacked up, never back down tough guys. This is likely to frustrate some, but I think it fits the material perfectly. The movie is big, brash, and aggressive, so the dialogue and characters reflect that approach. I suppose the shift from metrosexual action heroes to this hyper masculine approach might be a little wild to some folks, but otherwise this one is within the usual action movie standards, just dialed up in a lot of ways.
Overall Insanity: 2/10