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King of Thieves


Stars: Michael Caine, Jim Broadbent, Tom Courtenay, Charlie Cox, Ray Winstone, Paul Whitehouse, Michael Gambon, Francesca Annis, Claire Lichie, Ann Akin, Adam Leese, Kellie Shirley

Director: James Marsh

The Hatton Garden Job - the first film version of the now near- legendary 2015 Easter Bank Holiday burglary, starring Matthew Goode, Phil Daniels and Larry Lamb - came and went without making a splash.

And now the fortunate crooks return and, armed with a strong cast of pensionable-age actors led by Caine ('too many stairs for my age') as the brains behind the heist, and a slick screenplay by Joe Pemhall, director Marsh delivers an easy-to watch crime caper that might well set a new cinema record for the use of the 'F***' and all the other popular Channel 4-letter words.

Caine is in his element this time, playing his age for once and clearly enjoying the process as Brian Reader, the leader of the over-the-hill gang.

(Indeed, when sentencing the (real-life) criminals, Judge Christopher Kinch QC summed up their achievement with 'The burglary of the Hatton Garden Safe Deposit vault in April 2015 has been labelled by many as the biggest burglary in English legal history').

Recently widowed Caine (and casting director Nina Gold) assembles what he believes will be the perfect team of criminals to pull off the bank holiday jewel heist, featuring Gambon (memorably peeing to the basin next to Caine while he is having a shower), Courtenay (best of the acting bunch), Winstone (playing Winstone as usual), Gambon and rather too often seeming out of his depth, Whitehouse.

Youth is represented convincingly enough, by Cox as the up-to-date criminal needed to turn off the targeted jeweller's vault.

The sequences featuring Caine's recruiting villains and the actual robbery are entertaining enough, thanks in large measure to the robust performances of almost all the key characters.

After the crime, however, the narrative almost inevitably loses some dramatic momentum as thieves fall out. But things pick up again when the climax kicks in and the film delivers a surprisingly enjoyable crime caper that (and one of the villains actually mentions the movie) sometimes comes across like a potty-mouthed, violent update of the Ealing classic The Lavender Hill Mob.

No masterpiece then, but entertaining enough.

Alan Frank

UK 2018. UK Distributor: Studio Canal. Colour.
107 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 2, Drugs 1, Swearing 3.

Review date: 14 Sep 2018