Starring: Michael Caine, Jim Broadbent, Tom Courtenay
Director: James Marsh
Running Time: 108 mins
King Of Thieves is a British film about the true story of a group of retired criminals who launched a heist on a major jewellery vault in the centre of London, pulling off one of the biggest robberies in British history.
An ensemble cast of British screen legends and an already legendary true story isn’t quite enough to save King Of Thieves from being a really rather mediocre film. With a doddering and dull first act that does no justice to the intensity and scale of the real-life heist, the film is a frustratingly dull watch from the beginning, and although it does liven up in its second half, it never quite managed to really grab me.
But before that, let’s look at the cast, which is arguably the main reason that you’d want to see this movie. Starring Michael Caine, Jim Broadbent, Tom Courtenay, Ray Winstone, Paul Whitehouse and Michale Gambon, there’s absolutely no shortage of acting talent on display, and that shines through here – to a certain extent.
It’s safe to say that this isn’t the best turn I’ve seen from any of these actors, something that’s partly down to the fact that the screenplay here is far from spectacular, but also because none of the leads really manage to get into the meat of their characters. Of course, they’re all likable and entertaining on screen, but I struggled to watch this film without looking at the leads as the actors that they are, as such not being able to really come to understand the characters in the story at hand.
What’s also strange about this film is that it feels really confused as to whether it’s trying to be a comedy, or something a little more dramatic and gritty. On the one hand, there are some good laughs, and the ‘old mates’ vibe of the whole affair suggests it’s a film to sit back and laugh at. On the other hand, though, the movie is filled with a lot of strong language, as well as some rather dark sequences that look into the nastiness of the criminal world, something that really threw me off on a regular basis throughout.
And that’s where the story itself comes in. The Hatton Garden Job was a massive thing when it happened back in 2015, and yet the film that tells the story of what was such a big news event at the time is really very underwhelming.
Above all, the first act is dull, slow and very low-energy, with an abrupt jump from the character introductions at a funeral to the sudden beginning of the heist itself. Unlike the heist movies that the movie aims to emulate (and often even plays clips of throughout), the planning and execution of the robbery here is rather muddled and confused, and you’re not clear as a viewer what the actual operation consists of.
As a result, the actual heist sequence is really rather dull, an issue that’s compounded by the portrayal of the main characters as doddery old fools, concluding a very underwhelming first half of the film.
The second half is somewhat better, because we delve a little more into the actual intentions and psyches of the main characters, as we see them battle it out to get as much of the loot for themselves as possible. It’s not perfectly executed, and there is still a little bit of a low-energy and easy-going vibe about things (which makes some of the surprisingly darker and grittier moments really jarring), but the film does at least give a great representation of the old adage: ‘there’s no honour among thieves’.
Overall, then, there are parts of King Of Thieves to enjoy, with the all-star cast and the more interesting second half standing out above all. With that said, though, it’s a generally underwhelming affair, failing to capture the intensity and drama of a great heist, and instead plodding along at a rather dull and slow pace throughout, all the while muddling itself between its comedic and darker atmospheres, which is why I’m giving it a 6.5.