Den of Thieves Blu-ray review
According to opening text, 2400 times a year, 44 times a week, nine times a day and every 48 minutes, a bank is robbed in Los Angeles.
One helping bump these numbers is Ray Merrimen (Pablo Schreiber, THUMPER). Unfortunately, their latest heist (complete with an armored truck) leads to the murder of a police officer, and so even more attention on the gang. But that won’t stop their plans, especially the ones already in motion. Their next score, their biggest, will target the Federal Reserve (“the only bank that’s never been robbed,” notes one character), chiefly $30 million that is expected to be shredded out of circulation.
Such a high-risk plan of course requires a lot of planning, and so Merrimen and his team–which includes Donnie Wilson (O’Shea Jackson Jr, STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON), Levi (50 Cent, SOUTHPAW) and Bosco (Evan Jones, SHOT CALLER) do just that, with the expected tough-guy talk that makes the thieves seem to be more fit for donut shop robberies than action movie heists. On the hunt is Nick O’Brien (Gerard Butler, GEOSTORM), a gruff sheriff’s detective who is heading the investigation, although the viewer gets the suspicion that he’s barely put together enough to match his socks in the morning.
DEN OF THIEVES is the directorial debut of Christian Gudegast, whose writing credits include 2003’s A MAN APART and 2016’s LONDON HAS FALLEN, which also starred Butler. Gudegast has set himself up for a large-scale project, with plenty of moving parts, including choreographed action set pieces and a tight-knit group of characters. Partly because Gudegast gave himself too much and partly because the elements just don’t work, but DEN OF THIEVES is a big, bloated disaster, a chore to trudge through.
One issue is that we don’t believe that these men know what they’re talking about. They can recite the lines, but they just don’t act or look the part, and come off like they wouldn’t remember to lock the doors of a Lids after working the closing shift, let alone be able to pull off this level of plan. Another comes from the character of Nick, namely the amount of focus put on his destroyed homelife. This adds nothing to the story and works only to fatten up the overlong runtime, which clocks in at about two and a half hours, a length that one suspects comes from the filmmakers’ desires to mimic HEAT and not because of narrative necessity.
DEN OF THIEVES has its strong points–the opening shootout grabs attention (although it, like anything else in the movie, pales compared to the aforementioned HEAT)–but it never fully tries to do anything clever with the genre, nor does it strive for an ounce of originality.
Video: 2.39:1 in 1080p with MPEG-4 AVC codec. Although some spots appear fairly soft, details and textures are pretty strong overall.
Audio: English DTS Master Audio 5.1; English Dolby Digital 2.0; English Dolby Digital 5.1. Subtitles in English and Spanish. Dialogue comes through fine, but it’s the action-oriented scenes that grab viewers’ attention and make good use of surround sound.
Theatrical Version (2 hrs. 20 mins.)
Unrated Version (2 hrs. 29 mins.)
Commentary with director Christian Gudegast and producer Tucker Tooley: Available only on the theatrical version of the movie, this solid enough commentary features Gudegast and Tooley covering a wide variety of aspects related to the production.
Alternate Ending (4:51)
Alpha Males (2:06): A brief look at the multiple characters.
Into the Den (2:06) offers a plot overview.
Alameda Corridor (3:13) covers the training and shooting of the movie’s biggest action piece.
Outtakes (23:22): Included here is a collection of 11 deleted and alternate takes, which can be viewed separately or as a whole.