by Victor Dawson
Cast: Gerald Butler, Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, Pablo Schreiber, O’Shea Jackson Jr., Evan Jones, Cooper Andrews, Lewis Tan, Maurice Compte, Mo McRae.
Director: Christian Gudegast
Release Date: Jan 19, 2018
For starters, I, for one, had high hopes for this movie and was very excited to see how it performed. Seeing O’Shea Jackson Jr. playing Donnie gave the movie some excitement after witnessing a magnificent performance of him playing his father, Ice Cube, in “Straight Outta Compton.” Also, knowing how great of an actor Gerard Butler is and the amount of passion he brings to any character he plays, gave me something to look forward to.
“Den of Thieves” first opens with some explaining of how many bank robberies occur in Los Angeles and California over the span of one year; the statistics are then broken down by months, days, hours and minutes.
Having rolled out the facts, which are impressive, the text concludes that “Los Angeles is the bank robbery capital of the world.” Not too long after that, the first scene opens up with a robbery job turned gun fight. However, the other two hours of the movie were, well, just two long, boring hours. There were a lot of things wrong with this flick—noticeable ones at that.
When this movie was first advertised and previewed to the world, it was assumed that the four main characters would be Gerard Butler (Nick Flanagan), Curtis Jackson (Levi Endson), O’Shea Jackson (Donnie) and Pablo Schreiber (Merrimen).
However, it didn’t turn out to be that way. It felt like a Gerard Butler flick because so much of the story line was focused on him and his issues. His character’s infidelity issues and divorce, mixed with his life as a cop, remained front and center. It was cool at first to get some insight into his life, after seeing how the movie tried to sell him as a gangster cop who was willing to hover the line of good and evil in order to catch his suspects. Don’t get me wrong: Butler was as fearful and badass as ever. Seeing him try to inflict fear into Donnie in the beginning of the movie, as he choked the spit out of him, really established his character.
After a while, all of the attention on him started to become annoying. The previews made sure to show highlights of Jackson, Jackson Jr., and Schreiber as the main protagonists, but in no part of those two hours did it feel that way. 50 Cent only had one personal scene to himself where he tried to inflict intimidation into his daughter’s prom date.
“For the past sixteen years, my daughter’s protection and safety has been my responsibility, and my responsibility only. Now, for the first in my life, I see, I gotta hand you that responsibility. Don’t [mess up] or your momma would weep that she has to wheel [you] around everyday for the rest of your life.”
That’s really about it. That’s the longest dialogue 50 Cent had throughout the whole movie. It was like he was barely even there. He wasn’t a star, but more like a supporting cast member, which was disappointing. The same went for Schreber, who was supposed to play a ruthless and highly intelligent bank robber. He didn’t really have enough time to shine, like his character demanded.
Out of the three, Jackson Jr. had the most spotlight, playing a talented driver who was just trying to make ends meet. Still, his moment didn’t come until the end, when he escaped the handcuffs in a cop car during a shootout, and took thirty million dollars out of the trunk. Even through all that, Butler’s character snatched up too much of the spotlight.
The other problem with this movie is the lack of chemistry between the antagonist and protagonist. It always felt like something was missing. The last showdown and shootout between the bank robber and feared cop was supposed to be filled with anticipation leading up to it, but failed to live up to expectations.
Overall, “Den of Thieves” was good, but not great, and will be remembered as one of those films that came and went.