Den of Thieves - Review

Den of Thieves is a mess. Amidst an overlong runtime, a ridiculous subplot, and a sad excuse for a twist is an idea for a film that isn't half bad. Showing the dark side of LA cops and the brotherly aspects of LA criminals is certainly an idea worthy of a movie; just not this one. 

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Den of Thieves begins with its best scene: a shootout between a group of trained criminals and the LAPD. Excellent sound editing crafts a mood of intensity, signaling that this will not be another run of the mill criminal drama (haha). Soon after this, we officially meet the criminals, as well as the LASD officers who are trying to catch them. The leader of the LASD, played by Gerard Butler, is a classic bad cop, threatening to kill suspects and use unorthodox methods to obtain information. In the first half of the film, he is the the most interesting character, as it is difficult to predict what his next move will be; this trait fades as the film progresses, as we learn that he basically reacts at a hundred percent to every situation, the only variable being whether or not he shoots someone. 

The film spends far too much time developing Butler's character through a pointless subplot connected to his family. The writing is lazy, and the circumstances are drab, yet the real sting of this detour is that it fades into obscurity; it is never revisited, and changes absolutely nothing in the grand scheme of the story. It is lazy writing meant to insight care for Butler's character, and it is not a good look. 

The film falters further in its pitiful attempt at a plot twist in the very last scene. One character is revealed to be more than met the eye, and the audience is expected to gasp at the "obvious" clues hinted at earlier in the film. The issue, then, becomes that this twist is not earned; the character was a minor one, and never once gave any indication to his motivations. It is the same as saying the robber was really some random extra in scene fourteen: it means nothing, and is played solely for shock factor. It even betrays the realistic nature of the film, which, for all intents and purposes, is fairly graphic; deaths hit hard, and the struggle of law enforcement vs. crime is an all too true conflict. Introducing a twist in the last frame cheapens the already inexpensive plot, making this a wholly undesirable film.