Susan Granger’s review of “Den of Thieves” (STX Films)
Opening with the (unverified) data that Los Angeles is “the bank robbery capital of the world,” there’s also the alarming alert that a heist occurs every 48 minutes.
At the Major Crimes unit of the L.A. Sheriff’s Department, ‘Big Nick’ O’Brien (Gerard Butler) is obsessed with these statistics and determined to catch recently paroled Ray Merrimen (Pablo Schreiber), whose band of former Marines-turned-bank robbers, known as “The Outlaws,” are planning to rob the downtown branch of the Federal Reserve for $30 million in unmarked bills.
Musing, “We’re dealing with a different animal here,” Big Nick plants a mole within Merrimen’s organization, the hapless young bartender/getaway driver Donnie Wilson (O’Shea Jackson Jr., a.k.a. real-life son of Ice Cube), who, unfortunately, blows his cover at a Japanese hibachi restaurant.
Meanwhile, gang member Enson Levoux (Curtis Jackson, a.k.a. 50 Cent) enlists his Outlaw cohorts to intimidate his daughter’s prom date. And Big Nick routinely cheats on his wife, Debbie (Dawn Olivieri), who walks out on him, taking their two young daughters. Ho hum!
Screenwriter Christian Gudegast makes a less-than-auspicious directorial debut after previously working with brutish Gerard Butler on “London Has Fallen,” perhaps because, in addition to the clichéd dialogue, almost every aspect of his contrived, pointless plot is so obviously influenced by Michael Mann’s “Heat” and Bryan Singer’s “The Usual Suspects.”
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Den of Thieves” is a familiar 4, a long, loud, logistical crime caper that curdles.