If you have seen “Heat,” the Michael Mann film from 1995, then you are going to recognize that “Den of Thieves” wants to be “Heat.” It really wants to be “Heat.” That should be a bad thing; however, in this case it isn’t. Is it as good as “Heat?” No, of course not, but it’s still a good film, and something that stands out from other heist movies.
Gerard Butler plays one of his better roles in years as the head of a special crime unit tasked with solving bank robberies in Los Angeles. As we find out throughout the film, he has gone a bit too deep into his work and it is now affecting his family life and marriage. Butler shines in this role and I’m glad to see he hasn’t completely gone off the rails with his cookie-cutter action-star roles.
That is specifically one thing this movie does well (which is where the similarities to “Heat” come in): It shows the outside life of both the good guys and the bad guys, and at some points you don’t know who you want to win aside from knowing some are cops and some are robbers.
Then we get to the action sequences, which are phenomenal. Not by the standard of something like “Fast and Furious,” but by flat-out exciting and loud gunfire, tense pursuit, etc. “Heat” is known for some of the most outstanding gunfire sequences and this might rival it. Outstanding!
The last piece to mention is the heist itself. It is near “Ocean’s” complexity and excitement.
Overall, I really loved the film. There are some flaws, and it does borrow from other films so I can’t go higher than a 4, but it’s a solid 4/5 that I hope to watch again in the future.