Thursday 20 September 2018

Film: 'King of Thieves'

Going to see a film about which one already knows has had scant, if any, praise, does not fill one with excited anticipation.  That was what probably led to my disliking it rather less than I'd expected. Not a recommendation to see, without doubt, but also not as dire as all that.

Based on an actual heist of money and jewellery (value est. £14 mill. = 18.5 mill. $ American) as recently as 2015 in Hatton Gardens, East London and starring a roll-call of stalwart, aged (geriatric or very nearly - except for one) British stars as the burgling gang, led by Michael Caine (now 85-years old, here playing 76) and including Tom Courtenay, Jim Broadbent, Ray Winstone, Paul Whitehouse, with Michael Gambon - and Charlie Cox at a sprightly 36. 
The robbery, carried out over Easter week-end (long public hols), was, unsurprisingly, very big news here at the time, being the biggest such in British history, maybe less publicised abroad. Apparently to date only £4 million of the haul has been recovered.  

I quite liked the film's construction in that not much time is wasted in introducing the characters nor in showing the planning of the crime. In fact within half-an-hour of the film's start the burglary has begun - another half hour and it's over i.e. the loot is being divided, or at least agreed on how it is to be.

The film concentrates not so much on the mechanics of the audacious event but rather on the dynamics within the criminal group. It doesn't take long for the squabbling to start - in fact there's a major falling out and walking away by one character before it's even been committed. It's not hard to work out that the rivalries between gang members will lead to suspicions as to who can and can't be trusted to keep tight-lipped, as well as the sharing, especially since the there's no actual physical dividing up of the spoils until a few days have elapsed.   
The script is plain, unexciting and predictable (replete with 'fucking' of this and that) - with the inevitable repeated references to age and incontinence, as well as to diabetes. Not much imagination there. 
The police's relative ease in identifying the culprits was rather hard to give credence to, though it is based on what happened. I liked that there is no script at all for the officers successfully tracing the gang members, completely wordless as it was. 

t was curious why, right at the film's end, we had to be shown a succession of two-second (max) clips of four of the main stars' early films - Caine  (as Harry Palmer) and Courtenay, Broadbent and Winstone. Why? We already know who they are!

Director James Marsh's most renowned film to date is 'The Theory of Everything', and this new one hardly deserves to be spoken in the same breath as that fine achievement. Nonetheless this was, in my opinion, nowhere near the unmitigated disaster which some seem to indicate it is........................5.

(IMDb.................6.0 / Rott. Toms.................4.9 )


  1. I hope you didn't think my review meant I didn't like it! I found it quite entertaining but with a reservation about the amount of swearing and the scrip being a bit thin; I wrote my blog review as I did because I was aware that the film would not appeal to most of my readers.

    1. Must confess that I thought you most emphatically did NOT like it, Rachel. Even though I did detect an evident stroke of sarcasm in what you wrote I took that as an 'intensifier' of your dislike when, now I see, it was more tongue-in-cheek.
      The script certainly was weak and obvious but, like you, I found the whole film had an odd air of fascination about it - mainly because of nearly all the 'stars' being big or biggish names, at least to British audiences, and at their stages of life it may well turn out to have been, for at least one of them, his final film. Michael Gambon in particular looked extremely frail. Could have been an act, I suppose, but if so why would he have wanted to play it so? If the film had been made with a cast of unknowns I would have rated it one or more points lower.

    2. That's the trouble with the internet, nuances can often be lost. I note that I did not say I found it entertaining so you are forgiven in thinking I did not like it. I did truly believe though that you would not like it especially because of the rather old fashioned jokes about the possible sexual persuasion of the techno boy who helped with the alarm etc. I can never really tell with homosexuals what they consider ok and what they don't. It is unpredictable what is allowed and what isn't, joke wise and otherwise, especially with some on blogs. Anyway, I did enjoy it but do not know anyone of my friends I could recommend it to. I agree about if the film had been made with a cast of unknowns, it would have been a B movie.

    3. I honestly hadn't given the brief gay barbed references much thought, at least compared to my more pronounced antipathy to the script's general banality. Everyone's sensitivity on the subject varies so it would be presumptuous for one person to lay down rules as to what may or may not be said, and it's difficult to separate one's views in the light of what happened in each individual's own life experiences.

      Yes, blogs can be a rough tool to convey one's thoughts and some of us (most?) do not spend much time weighing up the impact of our words. Does anyone, in fact? It's low down on our day's priorities, isn't it?