Den of Thieves

It’s no wonder that Americans shoot each other with gay abandon, if they are flocking to their cinemas to be ‘entertained’ by movies such as this. It is exceedingly nasty and violent, and if macho bullshit were to be measured on the Richter scale it would likely fly off the register. Even the ‘good guy’, Gerard Butler, near the top of the new breed of British hard men, is a poser – in fact he is the ugliest character of all. As heists go, the crims’ plan to break into the Los Angeles branch of the Federal Reserve Bank is a beauty, but writer/director Christian Gudegast is obsessed with proving to us that his streets are the meanest and his blokes the toughest. Nick O’Brien (Butler) is the LAPD detective who is trying to track down Merrimen (Pablo Schreiber), leader of the city’s ace crew of murderous gangsters. Tattooed, bearded and decked out in a perfectly battered brown leather jacket, O’Brien smokes a lot, swears a lot and punches people in the head a lot, but I nevertheless got the impression that we are meant to think that he is cool. As the plot becomes apparent, after the guys have established their homo-erotic alpha-maleness and the few females involved have been designated as trophy, Jezebel or dependent species, the story builds to an absorbing and trickily worked out climax. When all the cleverly calculating writing is done, however, there is a brain-dead fallback to a yawn-a-thon shoot-out in which the cops have a humungous gunfight with the bank-robbers in the middle of an LA traffic jam – ‘keep down’, they advise the hapless drivers. Really? The combatants drop like flies in the torrent of bullets, leaving the last two standing – do I need to tell they are O’Brien and Merriman? What I didn’t see coming, until near the end, is the twist in the tail that makes you wish that producers of these junk/hero movies would appeal more to their audience’s brain than their testosterone level.

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