Den of Thieves (2018) - Going back to the essence of classic action movies in a convincing way - 9/10 (12/02/18)
Den of Thieves might be a stereotypical movie about tough guys trying to outsmart one another but it's a really entertaining ride and worth the praise it gets.
First of all, the story is fast-paced without any lengths. Each character is introduced appropriately, the tension slowly rises until a gripping climax and the final twist is quite impressive as well.
Secondly, the acting performances are stellar. Gerard Butler fully impresses as tough and pitiless detective who convinces with unshakable determination but also shows his flaws with his aggressive recklessness. Pablo Schreiber offers a very solid performance as strong, intelligent and ambitious criminal who turns out to be much more complex than meets the eye. The secret protagonist of the movie is O'Shea Jackson Junior's character who goes through a spectacular development from being a curious bartender, becoming involved in a gang of highly trained criminals and ending up what seems to be an undercover collaborator with the local police force. Each character has important flaws and strengths which makes everyone of them particularly authentic. Identifying a clear protagonist or antagonist is nearly impossible which sets this movie apart from other genre flicks.
Thirdly, the action sequences are quite spectacular, including car chases, gun fights and hand-to-hand combat but these elements are never overused and keep the movie diversified yet credible.
Fourthly, the main heist is truly spectacular and nerve-firing as the clever criminals face quite a few serious challenges. The whole sequence lasts about half an hour but feels less than half as long because it's so gripping.
Fifthly, despite being an action movie, this film doesn't overuse special effects, employs lighting techniques smoothly and utilizes calm camera work. Stylistically, this movie goes back to the great action movies of the eighties which is quite refreshing and not headache-inducing. Great action movies don't need shaky cameras and zombies but should stick to the simplest ingredients to fully convince. This is what Den of Thieves accomplishes very successfully.
In the end, watching Den of Thieves was a surprisingly positive experience. I haven't watched such an overall enjoyable action movie in a very long time. Fans of action cinema with tough guys in the key of the Die Hard franchise just can't get around this film. I certainly don't aim to sound controversial but the only thing to point out is that this movie was made by men for men and might appear somewhat stereotypical to most women. On the other side, it's just the other way around with films like Pitch Perfect. If this movie seems to be right down your alley, you will enjoy it for sure but if it's not your type of movie, just ignore it.« Smart guys trying to sound tough - A review of Symphony X's UnderworldEternal youth thanks to the heavy metal cure - A review of Loudness' Rise to Glory »