Den of Thieves

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
Den of Thieves Movie Poster Image
Violent, overlong heist movie has iffy messages.
  • R
  • 2018
  • 140 minutes

Parents say

age 17+
Based on 6 reviews

Kids say

age 14+
Based on 3 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Promotes the idea that manhood is based on bodybuilding, swagger, and pushing people around. Tries to suggest that this is irreverent and cool. Objectification of women.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The bad guys are slightly more likable than the good guys, but they're hardly admirable, since they're thieves and killers. The good guys are shown to be bullies and misogynists who care little for the lives of others. Women are objectified throughout, and there are racially charged remarks.


Lots of guns and shooting. Characters are shot, with bloody wounds. Taser used. Sleeper hold applied. Beating, punching. Characters die. Main character argues/fights with his wife; she pushes and slaps him. The main character bullies and intimidates people.


Brief female nudity (a naked woman runs off screen, trying to cover up; she's seen mostly from the back). Suggested sexual situations. Women appear to be strippers, wearing revealing clothing and performing for men. Strong sexual innuendo.


Near-constant use of "f--k," plus "motherf----r," "s--t," "t-ts," "p---y," the "N" word, "a--hole," "ass," "piss," "sucks."


Coke is mentioned, and a Coke machine is shown. Carl's Jr. paper bag shown. Pepto-Bismol shown and mentioned. SPAM mentioned.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

The main character is sometimes hung over; he seems to drink frequently. Cigarette smoking. Plenty of social drinking in bars, etc.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Den of Thieves is a heist thriller starring Gerard Butler that focuses on a group of robbers and the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department. The bad guys end up being more sympathetic than the good guys, who are hard-drinking bullies who objectify women. It's also really violent: Expect to see lots of guns and shooting, plus bloody wounds, punching and beating, arguing, and bullying. Language is extremely strong and almost constant, with uses of "f--k," "motherf----r," "p---y," and more. There's brief partial nudity, as well as suggested sexual situations and partially clad women who appear to be strippers. The main character sometimes acts hungover and seems to drink a great deal. There's lots of social drinking in general, and the main character also smokes cigarettes. The movie sends problematic messages about manhood (i.e., it's all about bodybuilding, swagger, and pushing people around), and some characters make racially charged remarks.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byStephanieeeeeee December 25, 2020
Adult Written byThuso M. May 22, 2018

Awesomeness of a Movie

The ending will blow you away. Good story, the imperfections of the the Cops add a truthful dimension to the story. Superb casting as well. Kinda long though, b... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byScoochyBoots June 30, 2020

Most kids have already been exposed to this language.

Most kids at my school have heard the N-Word. Most kids at my school have played graphic video games. There’s a little bit of blood towards the end, but the sho... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old February 14, 2018

Den Of Thieves: Solid, Long Heist Thriller

Well Acted But Overly Long, Could've been about 1 hour 45 minutes or so, not 2 hours 20 minutes.
VIOLENCE: Gun shootings, blood, fights, heists (including... Continue reading

What's the story?

In DEN OF THIEVES, career thief Merrimen (Pablo Schreiber) leads his crew in a heist to steal an armored car. But something goes wrong, and they wind up in a shoot-out with the cops. This attracts the unwanted attention of the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department, led by "Big Nick" Flanagan (Gerard Butler). Nick's men manage to pick up Merrimen's regular driver, Donnie (O'Shea Jackson Jr.), and use him to learn more about Merrimen's next job. What Nick doesn't know is that the robbers actually plan to break into the "unrobbable" Federal Reserve. The thieves have cooked up a complex plan that requires many elaborate steps and will allow them to get away with cash that was earmarked for shredding (meaning it's free and clear). Can Nick foil their plans, or will the thieves get away with millions?

Is it any good?

In this long, dull, repetitive heist movie, the thieves are somewhat likable and the good guys are largely repulsive. And it doesn't even seem intentional; it's more like a wrongheaded attempt to be cool. Making his directorial debut, screenwriter Christian Gudegast (London Has Fallen) serves up Butler as a creepy, disagreeable "good guy" who bullies people and questions suspects in hotel rooms filled with booze and strippers. At his worst, Big Nick harasses and intimidates his wife and her friends after she's filed divorce papers against him. Gudegast seems impressed by his character's irreverence, but it's really just distasteful.

On the other hand, Schreiber's Merrimen treats his men with tough love but nevertheless like a family, and he's clearly more sympathetic. In addition to failing to acknowledge this discrepancy, Gudegast drags Den of Thieves out to a soul-draining 140 minutes by repeating information again and again, in nearly every scene. He kills potential suspense with poor editing choices and opens and closes the movie with interminable shoot-outs in which plenty of men fire guns but few things actually seem to get shot. The heist itself has some good ideas, and there might have been a better, shorter movie within this behemoth. But ultimately, this Den of Thieves was robbed.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Den of Thieves' violence. How did it affect you? Are guns glorified? What's the impact of media violence on kids?

  • Are characters bullies? Do they intimidate others and make them feel uncomfortable and/or threatened? How does that contribute to the movie's message about manhood?

  • How are women portrayed in the movie? Are there any three-dimensional female characters? Are they viewed as objects? Are they important to the story?

  • How is drinking portrayed? Do characters overdo it? Is drinking made to look cool? Are there realistic consequences? Why does that matter?

  • How does this movie compare with other heist movies you've seen? What's the appeal of that kind of story?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love action and thrills

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