WEEKEND WEB: Butler serves up some die-hard action

GAVIN MILLER reviews Gerald’s Butler’s latest movie, Den of Thieves (18)

This so wants to be this generation’s version of the Robert De Niro/Al Pacino-starring Heat – but ends up more on a par with something like Schwarzenegger’s Sabotage.

It does have its tense heist moments and sparks of ingenuity though, so it’s still worth entering this den of you’re an action die-hard – or a Gerard Butler fan.

Butler – who will surely soon be completely taking the action man mantle from Liam Neeson – stars as the head of an elite unit at the LA County Sheriff’s Dept, who are trailing a successful bank robbery crew after they turn into cop killers.

Den’s tag line is ‘which side would you choose’, but despite Butler’s heavily-stereotyped fag-smoking, booze-swilling, stripper-loving, hard case – who you see going through a divorce from wife Holly (Meadow Williams) in a rushed sub plot – there’s never any doubt it’s the cops you’re rooting for.

That’s despite Orange is the New Black’s Pablo Schreiber – arguably the best thing about the movie – proving to be a noteworthy villain of the piece, as he leads a gang of outlaws – that includes Straight Outta Compton’s O’Shea Jackson Jr and Curtis ‘50 Cent’ Jackson – on a seemingly impossible heist, with Butler’s ‘Big Nick’ and co on their tail.

Despite it trying so hard to be ‘gangsta’ Den of Thieves never really gets its flow on throughout – interspersed with misplaced back stories like 50 Cent’s daughter’s prom boyfriend shake down bizarrely thrown in – and has more a grizzled bark than a coherent bite.

But the final third – with a twist ending that isn’t quite as clever as it thinks it is – is enjoyable edge-of-your-seat stuff, that does throw a few decent nods to the like’s of Michael Mann’s aforementioned Heat.

Like Butler’s character, it’s a bit rough round the edges, but with a few noteworthy moments you won’t feel robbed if you throw ten bucks at it.

Rating: 3/5 Gavin Miller

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