FILM REVIEW: King Of Thieves
A crew of retired crooks pulls off a major heist in London’s jewellery district, but what begins as a nostalgic last hurrah for the group quickly becomes a brutal nightmare when greed overtakes them.
Director: James Marsh
Cast: Michael Caine, Ray Winstone, Michael Gambon, Jim Broadbent, Charlie Cox
Runtime: 108 min
Review by Leon Lau
Michael Caine, Ray Winstone, Jim Broadbent. These are just some of the legendary actors that are featured in King Of Thieves (2019), which has an incredibly star studded ensemble cast. Set against the backdrop of London, King Of Thieves is an entertaining – if inconsistent – retelling of the infamous Hatton Garden safe deposit burglary.
If you came into King Of Thieves expecting an informative peek into the actual burglary, you might be disappointed to hear that the focus is mainly on the character-driven ensemble. The actors are front and center of the film’s advertising, and for good reason. The entire crew is clearly having a ball with the material, and everyone relishes the chance to play a seedy crook.
Michael Caine easily has the meatiest role as the head criminal Brian Reader, and he delivers a performance that is equal parts menacing and sympathetic. But it’s Charlie Cox that surprised me the most. He plays Basil, an effeminate and jitterish young man who stands out from the cast of veteran actors. Unfortunately, the writing doesn’t do the cast any favours.
It’s a shame that the script is all over the place. The characters, while fun to watch, mostly come off as too repetitive as they all harp on the same ideas of greed and lust for power. I wish more focus went into the backstories of these crooks so that I could get a better understanding for their motivations. It is difficult to tell them apart from each other, and gives the audience less reason to root for anyone.
Thankfully, even at its lowest points the film manages to entertain through a healthy dose of comedy. Having a cast of elderly thieves poking fun at their own age makes for some funny gags. Here, their greatest enemy isn’t the law, its hearing aids with faulty batteries and constant backaches. In one of the film’s funniest moments, one of the thieves struggled to stay awake during the heist. I did not expect this amount of irreverent humour to be featured in a heist movie.
While I do wish that we had a deeper dive into the characters behind the actual heist, King Of Thieves remains an entertaining, albeit flawed heist movie thanks to a vibrant cast of actors who inject the film with plenty of energy.