14th Jan2019

‘King of Thieves’ DVD Review

by Jak-Luke Sharp

Stars: Jim Broadbent, Michael Gambon, Michael Caine, Ray Winstone, Charlie Cox, Francesca Annis, Tom Courtenay, Kellie Shirley, Paul Whitehouse | Written by Joe Penhall | Directed by James Marsh


Based on infamous true events, a famous thief, Brian Reader (Sir Michael Caine), pulls together a band of misfit criminals to plot the biggest bank heist in British history. The thieves manage to escape with allegedly over £200 million worth of stolen jewels and money. When police are called to the scene and the investigation starts, the cracks between the eccentric gang members begin to show as they row over how to share the goods and become increasingly distrustful of each other.

James Marsh’s King of Thieves, at its fingertips, has jocular and theatrical cockney crime caper in the same vein as Guy Ritchie’s Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch. Utilising what’s an all-star British cast, primarily made of heavyweights of the English film industry in Jim Broadbent, Michael Gambon, Michael Caine and Ray Winstone, to name a few. The result is sadly a tragic bore that can’t quench the thirst of wanting an entertaining and engaging comedy, nor drama for that matter. Ultimately leaving the audience left wanting so much more from a film that entails more a querulous than compelling narrative.

The performances themselves, from a terrific cast list, offer as much as they can on their end of the deal; yet the screenplay is borderline trash at its best, never the greatest of bargains. A series of delinquent and dull back and forths fill the 148-minute running time with intermissions of both Caine and Broadbent trying to outdo each other in a passive-aggressive combination of verbal nastiness and physical animosity, that comes across as undeniably flat and tragic with how far it misses the point. Writer Joe Penhall has seemingly traced around the genre conventions and beats while implementing foolish one-liners and pro-Brexit analogies with contradictions to its message. Not even in its pro-Brexit view can it convict such pathetic ideals without having to cover for itself from sounding as racist and xenophobic as possible, presumably to appease the likes of Brexit Caine and still open the floodgates of an audience, a feat it fails on both.

The whole experience is sadly just plain and bland. Never at one point is the tension of such a monumental robbery in British history felt, nor a realm of atmosphere pivoted upon at any one time. A series of dull encounters, an even drabber build up of events and a dreary execution with an abysmal follow on from that point. Possibly due to the inconsequential nature of the plot and an imbalanced structure that focuses on an incredibly passive finale, more so than the event itself.

King of Thieves is released on DVD on January 21st.


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