By Steven Sheehan.
Cast your mind back to the Easter Weekend of 2015. If your memory doesn’t let you down you might remember a little heist in London’s Hatton Garden.
Precious jewels, cash and other valuable items worth a total of £14 million were stolen by a group of pensioner-aged criminals. While it wasn’t exactly a small robbery, it was definitely one of the most unlikely.
The release of King of Thieves makes it the third film about the heist in three years. Although this is the most star-studded of the lot so far.
Michael Caine, Ray Winstone, Jim Broadbent, Michael Gambon, Tom Courtenay and Paul Whitehouse make up a dream team of British acting talent.
Director James Marsh’s film takes us back to the infamous weekend in question. Ex-con Brian Reade (Caine) is mourning the death of his wife but it isn’t long before he is planning the biggest heist of the decade.
Terry (Broadbent), John (Tom Courtenay), Carl (Whitehouse) and Danny (Winstone) make up the rest of the crew, with youngest member Basil (Charlie Cox) also tagging along.
There are no surprises involved in the plot as it closely follows events from the robbery to capture. They break in, grab the loot, get away and are then hunted down by the boys in blue.
They’re all veteran thieves after one last big job. Yet, no-one expects these old codgers to pull off the sort of robbery usually organised by criminal masterminds.
King of Thieves: Charismatic Rascals
King of Thieves is a light-hearted take on the heist that relies heavily on the charisma of its cast. They all have a twinkle in their eye playing a bunch of rascals reliving their golden years.
We even get a number of quick flashbacks of the actors seen at a younger age in earlier films. But like so much else it feels like a cheap trick with no real meaning behind it.
When it comes to the actual heist it lacks energy and any sense of danger. Even the police investigation is strangely flat with the officers barely given a line to speak.
Apparently, these guys are all dangerous criminals. Except we never see any evidence of it. They might swear like troopers at each other but that’s about all.
Fish out of Water
Broadbent never convinces as a short-tempered nutter. At 85, Caine no longer packs any menace. Courtenay is mostly nodding off. Winstone is strangely subdued. Gambon plays it like a comedy and is in a completely different film.
There’s little connection between these friends who apparently go way back. It feels like exactly what it is: a collection of actors on set just saying their lines.
The director has several Oscar nominations and even a win to his name. These have been for documentaries and serious dramas. In King of Thieves, he feels like a fish out of water.
A certain age group will probably warm to the film more than any other. Which is a shame as the line-up of actors is great. It’s just the script and direction is dreary and workmanlike.
This is two hours of your time you’ll never see again, stolen by a bunch of sneaky old geezers.
King of Thieves is released nationwide in cinemas on September 14th.