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Byron Shire
May 8, 2021

Cinema Review: King Of Thieves

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King Of Thieves

Don’t go along to this expecting it to be an ‘Oceans’ style scam with older blokes as the heroes instead of glam actors in fabulous suits and top-dollar sunnies. Nor should you anticipate director James Marsh beating the dead horse that is the ‘honour among thieves’ theme, for the crooks featured here are two-faced, grasping, and by their own account ‘duplicitous’. But it is precisely these character flaws that give the film its raw, at times abrasive, truthfulness. Newly widowed Brian (Michael Caine), a retired career crim, reunites at his wife’s funeral with some fellow travellers and, inspired by past glories, they agree to do one last heist, their target a jewellers in London’s exclusive Hatton Garden. The motley crew of Danny (Ray Winstone), Terry (Jim Broadbent), Kenny (Tom Courtenay) and Carl (Paul Whitehouse) all have their field of expertise, but they need a younger conspirator, a tech head, to handle the new-fangled systems of alarms that protect the glittering prize – enter Basil (Charlie Cox), a gullible novice in their school of hard knocks. The prep and execution of the burglary (based on an actual theft that yielded millions of pounds) is engrossing, but it is the personalities of the men, and their relationships, expressed through often spiteful dialogue – none of them trust the others – that intrigues and keeps you hooked. The pace is variable, with an edit that shifts from slow and deliberate to almost quickfire and not quite jagged (making it at times a bit like Guy Ritchie on Valium, which is not necessarily a bad thing), and the tone is equally inconsistent, ranging from the downright nasty to matey jokiness – I laughed out loud more than once, notably when Terry needed a break from drilling through a concrete wall to have an injection of insulin in his arse for his diabetes. Above all, it is a joy to watch such great actors doing their thing while, in the process, raging against the passage of time. Though poorly received elsewhere, I loved it.

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