A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
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.
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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 Thieves' violence. 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?
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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.
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