A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
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.
- Parents say
- Kids say
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 ...
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 does this movie compare with other heist movies you've seen? What's the appeal of that kind of story?
- In theaters: January 19, 2018
- On DVD or streaming: April 24, 2018
- Cast: Gerard Butler, Pablo Schreiber, O'Shea Jackson Jr.
- Director: Christian Gudegast
- Studio: STX Entertainment
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Run time: 140 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: violence, language and some sexuality/nudity
- Last updated: December 10, 2020
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