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“King of Thieves” Is A Royal Disappointment

It’s a huge bummer when a movie wastes incredible talent. Any film that boasts a cast like this, with Michael Caine at the top in a starring role, teaming up with Jim Broadbent, Tom Courtenay, Charlie Cox, Michael Gambon, and Ray Winstone, the final product should be way better. Throw in a quality director like James Marsh at the helm and this sounds like the talents behind an Oscar contender. Well, opening this week, King of Thieves is not that. This heist tale is slowly paced, dull, and a shall of what it could have been. Alas, this was a big time letdown.

The film is a “based on a true story” crime drama. Centered on infamous true events in England, we follow a famous thief named Brian Reader (Caine) as he gets back in the game. Mourning the loss of his wife, he begins to pull together a group of over the hill friends, including John Kenny Collins (Courtenay), Danny Jones (Winstone), and Terry Perkins (Broadbent) to plot a huge heist. Not content to just pull off one more job for the hell of it, they actually are working towards the biggest bank heist in British history. The wrinkled thieves manage to do the unlikely and escape with millions worth of stolen cash and jewelry. Of course, the police are quickly called to the scene of the crime and the investigation starts. In short order, cracks begin to form in the gang, as greed trumps friendship. As mentioned, James Marsh directs a script by Joe Penhall, with supporting turns from, in addition to the aforementioned Cox and Gambon, the likes of Francesca Annis, Kellie Shirley, and Paul Whitehouse. The score is by Benjamin Wallfisch, while the cinematography comes from Danny Cohen.

This is a cast worthy of an Academy Award caliber flick. Everything else about it? Not so much. There are occasional moments of wit and bursts of personality, but they fall by the wayside about as quickly as they rear their head. The cast does what it can, but the actors are fairly one note. To be sure, watching Caine and company do this sort of thing has its charms, but they’ve all been better and more engaging than they are here. The final product is just so forgettable, so indifferent to your enjoyment, it’s hard even to make much of a fuss about it.

Oddly, the movie bears some similarities to another recent effort of Caine’s, the remake of Going in Style. It’s interesting to ponder why he found geriatric heist films to be so attractive right now. Obviously, it is nice to see him in anything, with the same largely going for the rest of the cast, but still. Something a bit more compelling than this would have been preferable. They do what they can, but it’s ultimately all in vain. Nothing about this story needed to be told. Maybe the real tale is more interesting? It would have to be, considering how this turned out.

All in all, you just can’t help feeling like King of Thieves should have been way better. Almost by accident, this at least should have been more fun. When you look at the resumes of Broadbent, Caine, Courtenay, Cox, Gambon, and Winstone, not to mention Cohen and Marsh behind the camera, this will be a work that you, and everyone else, skips right over. Instantly forgettable, mediocrity reigns supreme here. Unless you’re a die hard fan of someone in the cast, or somehow enraptured by the real life story, this is easy to pass up. It just never makes a valid case for its own cinematic existence…

King of Thieves hits theaters tomorrow!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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