Den of Thieves Film
Why I’ve chosen to write a Hub about this film
Initially, I was planning to just see the film, and not perform a Hub on it. With the amount of online research and time that I’ve seen committed to the film itself, I feel it’s hub-worthy.
1. An all-star Testerone-laden cast. Gerard Butler, Pablo Schreiber, O’Shea Jackson Jr., and Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson starring. It makes me want to see what strong characters are involved in the plot.
2. The trailer had an interesting enough Story hook. The Movie Viewer is left with the one question: Why is the Gang wanting to rob the Federal Reserve Branch? Will they get caught? Who suffers (dies)? Ultimately, who’s the Bad Guy? Who’s the Good guy? Who’s the Foil?
3. I had seen the Director’s name on other projects, and wanted to see what he could deliver in this movie. As it turns out, in real life, he’s the son of Eric Braeden. For those of the Soap Opera fanbase, Eric played (is playing) Victor Neuman on The Young and The Restless. Eric also has a role in two scenes of Den of Thieves as the Bar Owner.
4. Was there going to a similarity to Triple 9?
A really good film
As you’ve probably figured out, my life is spent inside of a movie theatre. When not auditing the “Movie of the Week,” I’m a paying customer, and average one theatrical movie per day. As GM Chris Sey and I had an informal interview, he asked me “So, what else do you do, when you’re not auditing?” After I told him, he incredulously said: “So, when you’re not watching movies, you go home, and watch more movies?”
My movie homework pile is slightly less, compared to this time last year. There are not as many books to read, as the Book to Movie tie-ins had dropped off substantially, during Holiday Season 2017. Following the trends, there seems to be a Divergent path of either following-developing Franchises, or towards developing Original movie scripts. There seems to be no in between.
My “Movie Homework” pile is steeper this year, because of Marvel Studios’ Avengers: Infinity War, Part I. I am studying for this movie. You know, doing my Avengers homework. This is actually a good thing, as some of the movies due out in 2018 involve the prior movies: Ant-Man and The Wasp, Deadpool 2, Venom, and X-Men: Dark Phoenix.
As some of my Disney research revealed this week, there are other titles in the pipeline.
What’s the premise?
The premise behind Den of Thieves is pretty simple.
The Bad Guy in the film, named “El Jefe” in any version of the 4 theatrical trailers, and introduced in the beginning Opticals as “Merrimen,” Pablo Schreiber delivers in the Bad Guy role again. Looking “very buff,” as one of the Aunties in the audience noted, Pablo plays the former Marine-Bad Guy role pretty well. Remembering his performance as one of the Good Guys in 13 Hours, this film takes his role in the latter film and develops his Marine-likeness in Den of Thieves.
Gerard Butler as Bad Nick
Gerard Butler returns in the Good Guy role, playing the Leader in charge of the Los Angeles Sheriff Department’s Major Crimes Unit division. This was a storyline that hadn’t been done before, so I can see why this film received funding from STX Films.
Since appearing in Geostorm as the older brother, Gerard delivers in the role of Nick Flanagan in Den of Thieves. Also, if one opted to stay for the Ending Credit Roll, Gerard was also one of the producers for Den of Thieves. Quite impressive was his stamina for some of the running Action scenes, where he’s on foot, in pursuit of the Bad Guys.
As with all of the “Hometown Heroes” character, Nick also has his share of family issues throughout the film, serving as Storyline B, while Storyline A is trying to catch Merrimen and his gang, before the next heist is about to occur.
I am very much looking forward to his recurring role of Mike Banning in film #3 of the “Has Fallen” series: Angel Has Fallen. I enjoyed the other two films very much. The third film is in the pre-Production stage, where is also one of the Producers. In case you were looking for the other two films, they are called Olympus Has Fallen and London Has Fallen (shot with the use of D cameras for some the Action sequences). These two titles were Movie Vault worthy.
There are quite memorable performances by other actors
O’Shea Jackson Jr.’s role is pretty good. His character is crucial in the film, and that’s all I’m going to say right here. You’ll have to see the film to see what his character arc is. In real life, he’s the son of O’Shea Jackson, aka Ice Cube. In fact, Jr. played the role of Ice Cube in Straight Outta Compton, which I wondered why he looked so much like Ice Cube.
Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson’s role is equally convincing as Levi Enson. He plays one of the Bad Guys, and has that on-screen presence for such a role. Sonya Balmores appears in the role of Malia, whom the Movie Viewer assumes to be Levi Enson’s wife or girlfriend, as she only introduces herself to Levi’s daughter’s date as “Hi, I’m Malia.” Some of the TV people may remember her in the currently Oahu-location Marvel TV’s Inhumans series.
There are other memorable faces on both the Good Guys (Maurice Compte and Brian Van Holt) and Bad Guys (Evan Jones and Cooper Andrews) teams.
With any action film, there is always one guy on the Government’s side that the MovieViewer also doesn’t like. Jordan Bridges delivers in that role as FBI Agent “Lobbin' Bob” Golightly.
How it’s delivered in the 2H20M film?
It’s delivered a bit slowly at times, but the audience was expecting more to happen on-screen, as most of the Premiere Night audience were Action people, and like Gerard Butler as an actor.
To answer some of the MovieFan’s emailed questions:
Why is the film that long?
Not knowing the Screenplay specifics, the film was that long, in order to show multiple storylines, how they interweave, and how it plays out in the “Showdown.” Like any action movie, you know there is going to be a Shootout. This takes time to develop on-screen. The “Shootout” screen wasn’t as realistic as Wind River’s, but had a lot of dubbed actor’s breathing.
Did it seem like you were checking the time via cellphone or watch?
No, I wasn’t checking the time, as I can usually judge the length of the film, and its appropriate act number. One of the Cousins left to go to the Restroom, about mid-film. But, he returned to his seat.
Why are these guys considered a “Den of Thieves”?
Despite one of the film’s multi-cultural references (“The Samoans must be getting lazy. Must be all the Spam they’re eating.”), the film’s tone is already set in the Opening Montage: Los Angeles. Throughout the film, the story takes place throughout other parts of California.
They are considered a Den of Thieves, because no one really knows who the real thief is. About the time you’ve figured out who the thief is, the plot changes. Thank goodness for Twist endings, because this is what happens in the film’s Climax.
TrueFact: During the sold-out performance of Premiere Night’s 715pm at Windward Stadium, there is a liking of this genre by many local Hawaii people. There were quite a few active duty Marine personnel in the audience who appreciated the remodeled theatre, and lots of “Hoots and Hollers” from the balcony during the various Picture Car and Shooting scenes, from the local Uncles.
Were there any similarities to Triple 9?
Yes and no.
Yes, it was similar to Triple 9, because the team was planning to perform The Heist. So, setting up the Good Guys and Bad Guys has to be shown. With Triple 9, you never knew who was good or bad, until the Climax. Great screenwriting by Matt, a former military guy. With a realistic script, there is the path where the Good Guy and Bad Guy cross, and this happens in Den of Thieves’ Strip Club, and concludes in the Bad Guy’s apartment. Good use of Irony in that scene.
No, it was dissimilar, because Den of Thieves focused on Character arcs, whereas Triple 9 was more on the Storyline, since there were lots of characters involved in the screenplay. Triple 9 takes place story-wise in Atlanta, GA, and Den of Thieves is in Los Angeles, CA.
Were there any similarities to other films in this genre?
Yes, there are many similarities to the Fast and Furious series, specifically Fast Five, where The Heist is performed by each player in Dominic Toretto’s crew. Upon further examination, Fast Five takes its cue from The Magnificent Seven (1960), where each cowboy contributed his skillset to the stopping the Bad Guy from overtaking the village. Upon further film analysis, The Magnificent Seven (1960& 2016) takes its cue from Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai.
Another Movie Vault worthy title: Seven Samurai, a 3-DVD collection from The Criterion Collection. Also available on their streaming paid service called Filmstruck.
If I’m guessing correctly, the Trailer scene (all three versions) from this week’s theatrical release of Maze Runner: The Death Cure, also pays homage to The Great Train Robbery, occurs in their version of the Train Scene, as Thomas and the Gang try a rescue on the Railroad Tracks. If you saw the latest “Movie Poster of the Week,” the ending is going to be WCKD. Which I’m interpreting to mean “WiCKeD.”
My Premiere Night film experience leading into Opening Day’s Trailer Checking
I had been checking the theatres’ listing for Advanced Ticketing since last week. When I didn’t see it, I thought that I might have to catch the film post-Opening Weekend. Which I really don’t like to do, since that puts me behind in my film reviews! Also, I like to see the latest film of the week on Premiere Night, as most of the Film Peoples are now beginning to ask me what happens in the film.
Checking the listing mid-day on Tuesday, for a Thursday Premiere Night, led me with a Reservation via ATOM. I love advanced seating software.
- I had already seen Darkest Hour as my first film of the day. Weirdly enough, I had chosen the same seat number in my MoviePass’ed film, as this was the same numbered seat in my ATOM reservation. As my Usher and I agreed: “you get to stay in the same auditorium!” Not only the same auditorium, but the same seat number. Which is nice, because you don’t have to move your stuff, and the Cupholder gets a semi-permanent seat for the day.
- PreShow, I ran into Uncle Laurence Lau, and we had a PreFilmD about theatre chains, and which films he’s seen recently. We both agreed that we were going to see A Better Tomorrow 2018, as this is a re-done film in the style of John Woo’s 1980s film series of the same name. Please feel free to visit my other Hub for film coverage, as this is also one of this week’s Openers, along with 12 Strong (which is already a “Featured Hub” on my Hubpage).
The 715pm showtime for Den of Thieves was sold out at Windward Stadium 10-plex. There is a huge audience wanting to see films in this genre, not only on Premiere Night, but also on Opening Day. As night turns to day in the life of a Film Journalist-Auditor, and the paperwork flow, I had a PreFilmD on TheBus with Gene Evans, who had already seen 12 Strong during an Advanced Film Screening at Consolidated Theatres’ Ward Cinemas last week. Our Friday morning PreFilmD revolved around Den of Thieves. He prefers to see his films at Ward, and he and I started the initial discussion of film attendance levels decreasing overall. We both agreed it was the market price point, and he is a regular attendee and sponsor at Ward (aka “One of my Goto People at Ward”).
On Opening Day at Pearlridge West 12-plex, there was an Older Uncle who purchased a ticket to 12 Strong, and sat in the seat next to me, while I was Trailer Checking this feature. He was super nice, saying “You’re fine,” when I moved my Backpack from the middle armrest, as he settled into the seat next to me. In between the PreShow and the end of Trailer playout, which can’t have been more than 10 minutes (max), he was already asleep in his Recliner seat! I was kindly observant of this fact, and let him sleep, as I discreetly left this auditorium, after The Perfect Start to 12 Strong occurred.
- While performing my Trailer Check paperwork, I thought that the theatre facility was having some overhead work done to it. There was a constant rattling, and it took me a few minutes to realize that the “Constant rattling” noise was 12 Strong’s Dolby ATMOS soundtrack of the Gunshots, which was heard down through the length and the double-paneled entrance hallway of Auditorium 9, as heard from one of the customers stepping out for the Restroom, and returning a few minutes later.
- I can only imagine that 12 Strong’s IMAX soundtrack will be just as dynamic. Neighboring walls will rattle with this Feature.
TrueFact: During an advanced film screening of 12 Strong, several people in the audience recognized me as “The Girl who checks the movies.”
If you’re wanting to know the ending of Den of Thieves, then here’s SPOILERS…
Seeing as some of the fellow film goers are wanting to know what happens, and so are various Theatre Managers at certain theatres, whom I audit on a weekly basis. Some of the management don’t have the time nor the desire to see the new films, so they ask my opinion of the film and the Ending.
With my traveling schedule, some of the managers at the 10-plex don’t get the opportunity to visit the 18-plex, for example, to see the “Movie of the Week,” and that’s where my expertise comes in handy.
SPOILER ALERT BEGINS HERE …
As I’ve indicated above, with the Good Guy and Bad Guy roles, there was always the question of O’Shea Jackson Jr.’s role as Donnie.
Outside of any trailer version, Donnie has a job as the local Bartender and self describes as being “in complete control of his environment.” He’s also the missing piece of The Heist’s puzzle, as his character’s origin is never really clearly explained, until the end of the film, as reviewed by Bad Nick (via the use of flashbacks), once Nick steps out the back door of the bar. Now knowing that Donnie quit his Bartender job two days prior to the Heist, Nick figures out the whole crime from Donnie’s POV, when the back door leads to the street, which fronts the Federal Reserve Bank of Los Angeles (aka “The Heist” site).
Through the use of the Twist ending, Donnie has actually been playing both sides against one another, in order to take The Heist’s monetary reward, which keeps going up in value, as the Bad Crew keeps upping the ante (and their fix, as Nick calls it). Getting paid to drive by Merrimen, Donnie doesn’t know anything, because if he doesn’t know anything, then he can’t be forced to tell “on nothing.”
- Through the use of Editing, and parallelism, there were two Refuse trucks (Garbage Trucks) involved on the day of the armored heist. I’m seeing shades of Fast Five, where Giselle drives the dumptruck while they’re performing the Heist. The only absent piece is the dragging of the Safe throughout the street.
- In Den of Thieves’ Climax, Merrimen and his crew are KIA (Killed in Action), which didn’t go over too well with the Active Duty Personnel at Premiere Night (as most of their PostFilmD comments indicated: “How could that have happened? Those shots were easy.” “If you were trained right.”) Those type of audience comments means that the Stunt Coordinator might need to hire more military expertise, while planning the Military-type action sequences, because if the Active Duty Military are not believing it on-screen, then it’s not real enough. Good news: the Active Duty Personnel had no problems with the armory being used, or the way the Actors handled the guns.
SPOILERS STILL IN EFFECT …
As the film plays out, Donnie approached Merrimen with the intelligence gathered through his guise as the Bartender, but says that he needs Merrimen to pull off the Heist, as “he can’t do it.” The reason that Donnie can’t pull off this particular heist is that he’s a worldwide player in other heists, as seen in the film’s concluding sequence:
- When Donnie and his helper are packing up the uncirculated bills, from the second Refuse truck. Donnie slaps a prepaid delivery sticker to “Mark in Panama City, Panama.” Mark is a character that is absent from this film’s story.
- The Final scene is of Donnie, as a Bartender in a London bar, getting to know the business people. In preparation for The Next Heist.
How the ending developed
This ending developed quite well, if seen from Donnie’s POV. Throughout the film, the clues have been dropped, but because he’s only the driver, he can’t tell on anyone, because he doesn’t know anything. When questioned by other members of Merrimen’s gang, Merrimen says he got his information “from a reliable source.”
What’s not explored is the relationship between Donnie and Merrimen, other than a shared picture at the second-to-the-last Scene, where Nick sees that Donnie was on their football team. The Movie Viewer can only assume that Merrimen was the team’s quarterback (from the dialogue inside the LASD MCU and Sushi scenes, respectively), and that Donnie was one of the players for many years.
Through inference, the Movie Viewer can assume Donnie, tired of being the subordinate, uses his various service skills to setup and manage several heists worldwide.
How the ending added to the film’s development
I like films where the Ending is not quite a surprise, as I had followed the Climax and the Conclusion along all story beats. So, I figured out the Ending before it happened, as the Heist-Thrillers can only end so many ways. This film bears a lot of similarities to Baby Driver, although with some changes in role types, as Baby Driver had a Downward ending, instead of the Twist ending.
With an open Ending, there could be a sequel to Den of Thieves, knowing that Gerard Butler is one of the Producers and with the “Has Fallen” series going into Film #3. I had also seen this “open-ended storyline” technique used in the Ben Affleck-produced film called The Accountant.
- The Accountant Film
If you’ve seen the Trailer, then you know what I’m talking about!
Thank you for reading one of this week’s film reviews. I’m currently working on A Better Tomorrow 2018 Hub, so check back on this.
Upcoming films for the week of January 26th, 2018 include: Kickboxer: Retaliation, Maze Runner: The Death Cure and Please Stand By. Forever My Girl opened at the Consolidated Theatres locations on January 19th, but this film opens in Regal Theatres this week.
Until next week, have fun and enjoy the movies, Pam
© 2018 Pam Freeman