The reviews are in on Gerard Butler's latest action movie, Den of Thieves, and they aren't pretty. In fairness, this caper flick isn't nearly as awful as Butler’s last big screen outing, Geostorm, which currently stands as the least fun disaster movie ever made. Despite its punishingly long 140 minute runtime, Den of Thieves sports a handful of moments that will satisfy B movie action fans with low standards. But for the most part, it’s just a subpar caper flick with an embarrassingly lame twist ending.
Den of Thieves is written and directed by Christian Gudegast, who previously served as the screenwriter behind other lame duck thrillers like London Has Fallen and A Man Apart. Gudegast has assembled an interesting supporting cast for his directorial debut, surrounding Butler with promising up and coming talents like Pablo Schreiber and O'Shea Jackson while tossing in Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson for reasons we can only assume to be related to the box office boost his fanbase presumably provides.
While it's certainly not the worst action movie that the elephant graveyard on Hollywood's release schedule (more commonly known as January) has ever produced, it falls well short of the films its director is so clearly drawing from. As a number of reviews have pointed out, Michael Mann's 1995 crime epic Heat ranks among the film's most obvious influences. Gudegast is definitely a fan of that one, though his first crack at recreating similar onscreen drama appears to have veered wildly off-course. Read on to see the Most Brutal Reviews Of Den Of Thieves.
Den of Thieves is such a dumb misunderstanding of the genres in which it plays, such a loud, interminable shart of unmitigated machismo, such a heavy-handed rip-off of Heat and The Usual Suspects and even Ocean’s Eleven (and maybe even The Fast and the Furious, but for scumbags) that it feels anachronistic on arrival, the kind of melodramatic, pulpy studio action flick that doesn’t get made anymore because it shouldn’t. -- Paste Magazine
Did the world need a hyper-violent, gender-swapped version of Mad Money? Do we need another Heat told by people who have no fundamental understanding of what makes that film so great? No, but here we are ... Desperately wanting to be Heat for a new testosterone-fueled, aggro-male generation, it utterly fails to do anything remotely exciting, electric, or entertaining with the mimeograph. Every scene feels like a dick measuring contest. Every belabored act feels like an exercise in torture. -- Fresh Fiction
It's this sort of baroque plotting that undermines the film and stretches it out to a numbing 140 minutes. The attempts to add psychological depth to the main characters prove ludicrous, whether it's Nick's [Gerard Butler] cliched marital problems or Enson [Curtis Jackson] using the gang to terrify the prom date of his teenage daughter. To the film's credit, the inevitable scene set in a strip club doesn't take place until well past the one-hour mark. -- THR
Den of Thieves is dumb. But the problem is that the film doesn't know how dumb it is ... There are times when you watch a film and maybe it doesn't connect with you right away. That's fine, more than once I've walked out a film with middling thoughts, only to mull over as time passes and appreciate what I saw as larger than the sum of the parts I was considering the moment. On the other hand, there are films that may have seemed just so-so in the moment, but as time passes you grow to loathe them due to the multitude of missed opportunities, poor handling of sensitive, or even not so sensitive material, and, most frequently, their sheer laziness. Den of Thieves is the latter. Avoid. -- ScreenAnarchy
Den of Thieves is a very particular type of heist movie. While most examples of the genre are content to merely show you a theft, this one wants to actually perpetrate one. Enter the cinema and it will soak you of two hours and 20 minutes of your time, delivered in small, unremarkable scenes. And no insurance policy in the world will ever reimburse you ... By the time the shoot-’em-up climax arrived, I no longer cared if Merriman’s team succeeded. I didn’t care if Butler caught them. I didn’t even care about his divorce. Instead, I was rooting for the audience, but it was too late; they’d already been had. -- National Post
A needlessly labyrinthine scheme is almost the least of the problems Den of Thieves has. Its biggest setback is its star, who comes across as a complete asshole from start to finish ... Den of Thieves feels like it’s trying to bully you into submission when it’s not boring you. -- Den of Geek
A film that seems completely devoid of any point or true effort. It's a movie with famous people in it, but it's unclear why it exists at all. It makes no point and does nothing special. If a movie was ever to define January movies this would probably be it ... you end up not being sure who you're supposed to care about. That could have been the point all along, but when you're wishing that the movie would end with everyone in it dying I don't think it did its job. -- Flixist
Clocking in at two hours and 20 minutes, it seems intended to have been a crime epic in the vein of Michael Mann’s Heat, about two men of talent and spirit who happen to be on opposite sides of the law. And it’s sort of like that, if you can imagine a Michael Mann picture that has been set on fire and dropped from an airplane. First-time director Christian Gudegast also wrote the film, and you can tell, in the sense that there was clearly no one there to look at the script and say, “Come on.” -- San Francisco Chronicle
The real culprit here is the horrible script, and the horrible indulgence of it all. This is a vanity project through and through - and something that would have been better off left unmade. -- JoBlo