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Den of Thieves


Stars: Gerard Butler, Pablo Schreiber, O'Shea Jackson Jr., Brian Van Holt, Curtis '50 Cent' Jackson III, Evan Jones, Kaiwi Lyman-Mersereau, Moe McRae, Maurice Compte

Director: Christian Gudegast

The 'F word' is so prevalent throughout this hard-boiled thriller that its use could well set a frequency-record for a 15 certificate movie.

Unusually, however, the non-stop tsunami of Channel 4-letter-words is justified by a pounding crime thriller whose villains and heroes are equally tough and given to talking like real people, not simply screenwriters' puppets.

Butler smokes, he is hard-drinking, unfailingly foul-mouthed, shoots to kill as a reflex action and is tattooed to resemble a trendy fabric design.

So, given a story of police versus a no-holds-barred gang of former military men planning the ultimate heist to rob the Federal Reserve Bank in Los Angeles, it would seem patently obvious that Butler's character, as scripted by director and co-scenarist Christian Gudegast, must surely be a Bad Guy.


He's the hard-nosed cop leading an elite unit of the L.A. Country Sheriff's Department against the would-be bank robbers.

Butler, who gained 25 pounds for his role, gives it all he's got and hits every mark needed to portray a shoot-to-kill-whenever-you-fancy-it hero, more than confirming his telling the villains 'You're not the Bad Guys; we are!' - and proving the point time after time, culminating in a climactic chase that leads to a bullet-flying shoot-out and a final bloody resolution.

And he's not ashamed for his character to be seen swigging Pepto-Bismol to prove he's human and showing his soft side when, after his wife and two daughters have left home, he talks with his daughter through the school fence.

Sensibly Gudegast ignores logic, settling instead for slam-bang action, thrills and suspense injected with blackly comic humour and ultimately justifying legendary critic Pauline Kael's wise comment 'Movies are so rarely great art that if we cannot appreciate great trash we have very little reason to be interested in them.'

Alan Frank

USA 2018. UK Distributor: STX International. Colour.
139 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 2, Violence/Horror 3, Drugs 2, Swearing 3.

Review date: 07 Mar 2018