King of Thieves

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
King of Thieves Movie Poster Image
Good cast, so-so story, swearing in fact-based caper movie.
  • R
  • 2019
  • 108 minutes

Parents say

age 15+
Based on 4 reviews

Kids say

age 16+
Based on 1 review

Did this review miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive, diverse representations in books, TV shows, and movies. Want to help us help them? Suggest a diversity update

A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Basically illustrates how crime doesn't pay ... except for those who are clever enough not to be caught on camera.

Positive Role Models & Representations

No role models here; only career criminals. Most of them do pay for their crimes, but it's unclear whether they've actually learned anything or bettered themselves.


Fighting and shooting seen in a montage. Chair-smashing, threats.


Near-constant language, with multiple uses of "f--k" and "f---ing," plus "s--t," "a--hole," "hell," "piss," "bastard," and "Jesus Christ."


Mentions of eBay.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Frequent social drinking (scotch and beer) at dinner, in clubs and bars, etc.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that King of Thieves is a jewel-heist movie that's based on an actual crime committed in 2015. Language is the biggest issue, with near-constant use of "f--k" and plenty of other words, including "s--t," "piss," and "bastard." There's a bit of violence, particularly in a montage of footage from robberies that includes guns and fighting. Characters also make threats and have fits of anger (one smashes a chair). There's a fair bit of drinking, mainly in social situations and with no drunkenness or ill effects. Sex is not an issue. Michael Caine leads the group of mostly older men who carry out the heist; while the movie is a little on the dry side, the performances are fun, and fans of the stars may enjoy it.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byAYoungChild October 13, 2020

Somewhat Entertaining

Normally I write pretty long reviews, but I'll keep it short for this one. There's no violence, sex or anything, just a whole lot of swearing. Frequen... Continue reading
Adult Written byKen R. July 29, 2020

The King Of Thieves - Kings of the Mundane

Egad look what just broke into our screens! A gang of over the hill jewel thieves plan and execute one of Britain’s biggest ever heists. This gang of misfit na... Continue reading
Teen, 17 years old Written byOehtthepoet April 9, 2019

Ok but not as inappropriate as the other review says

This movie was fairly disappointing but it wasn’t very inappropriate besides crude language, there is one scene where a male buttocks is seen in a scene where a... Continue reading

What's the story?

In KING OF THIEVES, veteran thief Brian Reader (Michael Caine) loses his beloved wife and finds himself in an empty, quiet house. Basil (Charlie Cox), an expert with computers and alarms, approaches Brian about a job: robbing the Hatton Garden Safe Deposit, where millions in jewelry are kept. Brian assembles a team of old cohorts -- Terry Perkins (Jim Broadbent), John Kenny Collins (Tom Courtenay), Danny Jones (Ray Winstone), and Carl Wood (Paul Whitehouse) -- to help him. The job involves drilling through concrete into the vault, which takes more than a day, but they finish the job, making it out with piles of cash and jewels. Then the backstabbing and betrayals begin, while police start piecing together clues based on surveillance footage. But for at least one member of the gang, an escape plan is set into motion.

Is it any good?

Based on a true story, this movie about "old codger" criminals feels a little dry/routine, but the great cast still strikes enough sparks to make it worth a look. Director James Marsh previously made a similar heist-style movie, the electrifying documentary Man on Wire, but he totally fails to re-capture that energy in King of Thieves. Man on Wire reveled in the details of its feat of derring-do; King of Thieves tries to do the same, but somehow silencing alarms and drilling holes just aren't very interesting. (Perhaps it's because this kind of movie is so familiar now?)

Moreover, aside from Caine's ringleader, the other characters are largely unappealing. They're duplicitous in such a way that viewers might feel as betrayed as the characters on-screen. Even so, it's still somewhat enjoyable watching actors like Broadbent and Winstone at their most volatile, switching gears quickly and about-facing from likable to unlikable. Meanwhile, Courtenay and Cox play "softer" characters who reveal their vulnerabilities in interesting ways. In an interesting touch, old clips from movies that feature the actors as young men (Billy Liar, the original The Italian Job, etc.) are used for flashbacks, to interesting effect. Overall, if King of Thieves is just "OK," that's probably because of so many other, similar movies stacked up next to it. Taken by itself, it's not bad and will probably appeal to fans of the stars.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about King of Thievesviolence. How much is shown/not shown? Does it feel violent even if not much is seen?

  • Why do you think we're drawn to stories of true crime and criminals? Do we want them to succeed, or is it more satisfying seeing them caught? Why?

  • What does "based on a true story" mean? Is the movie completely factual? Partly factual? Why might filmmakers choose to alter the facts? Does it inspire you to learn more about what really happened?

  • Some have criticized the film for glamorizing a crime that left many in dire financial circumstances. Is that something that you usually think about when you see movies like this?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love thrills

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

Streaming options powered by JustWatch

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate