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King of Thieves review - entertaining and starring an iconic cast, yet ultimately forgettable


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Verdict: A funny and entertaining watch for a night in but, despite its legendary cast, don’t go in expecting fireworks.

Subsequently known as the biggest burglary in English legal history, the Hatton Garden robbery struck the world over the Easter Weekend of 2015, and was predictably made the subject of a short series and three films.

This latest interpretation, starring British acting legends Michael Caine, Jim Broadbent, Ray Winstone, Michael Gambon, Tom Courtenay, Paul Whitehouse and Charlie Cox (of Daredevil fame), follows the gang as they plan and execute their heist, and into the aftermath of this legendary act.  

After losing his wife, criminal Brian Reader (Caine) is approached by Basil (Cox), who presents a plan to rob the well-known Hatton Garden vaults. Reader therefore recruits his old crew to pull off one final job, driven by monetary gain and by a desire to prove their age has not made them irrelevant.

The story is told in a very paint-by-numbers structure, following every step of a typical heist movie. King of Thieves moves along with great functionality but little spark or originality. Its attempt at a crossover between a cockney-style Ealing comedy and a gritty criminal drama feels disjointed and, given the talent behind the camera, a little amateurish.

And there is the crux of the issue with this film: what is a perfectly passable and enjoyable film for a night in feels more like a half-assed attempt at a feature when the viewer considers the calibre of the cast and crew.

That’s not to say it’s a flop of a film! It is very funny and highly entertaining for its duration, and the cast are, as can be expected, a delight to witness, even though the writing makes little attempt to make these characters likeable.

One of the highlights of the film is the use of cinematic montages intercut with old newsreel footage and movie clips from the cast’s earlier filmography. This places King of Thieves at the end of a long legacy of English heist films, the history of which somewhat helps to elevate its cultural standing.

This one might not be a top choice for a cinema visit, but it is a truly fun option for chill night in with some friends, if only for the legendary ensemble cast just being themselves.

King of Thieves is out Friday 14th of September, distributed by Studiocanal. 

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