Den of Thieves 2.0 stars

Movie poster

Synopsis

Gerard Butler may have found the perfect late-middle age role in director and co-writer Christian Gudegast’s quasi-stylish, both-sides-of-the-law crime drama. He tears into his performance as nasty cop (well, sheriff) and lousy husband Nick Flanagan the way Flanagan tears into a crime-scene donut, and crams the screen with a combination of Russell Crowe’s burly menace and Mel Gibson’s manic rage. He needs both to go up against a team of ex-military outlaws that’s planning something big, even if he does have an informant in their midst (O’Shea Jackson, charismatic as ever). Why “quasi-stylish”? Because for every interesting choice — the utterly empty LA streets in the opening scene, the frequent elimination of anything resembling background noise when there is dialogue or gunfire to be listened to — there is another that just feels dumb and indulgent — the unstripped stripper on a mission, cops instigating a firefight mid-gridlock. The story isn’t as clever as it would like to be, and would have been stronger if it spent more time on heist mechanics and less on escalating tension between the good bad guys and the bad good guys, but Gudegast’s direction is mostly clean and clear. And he’s thoughtful in his depiction of unglamorous Los Angeles.

Matthew Lickona

Length: 2 hours, 20 minutes

Rated: R

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