King of Thieves is a new heist film by director James Marsh (The Theory of Everything), who seems to be taking any project they throw at him nowadays. It tells the true story of a group of retired crooks who attempt to pull off one of the greatest heists in the history of London’s jewelry district.
The story is pretty interesting. Movies about older people trying to pull off things that are typically done by younger people are usually interesting, and the fact that this is based on a true story means that it should be even more interesting. However, the story is told in a way that is so generic and boring that it is barely watchable.
The film moves along at a snail’s pace. Even though the heist genre is usually one of the most exciting, this movie takes such a long time to get from beat to beat that it gets old really quickly (no pun intended). The script is mostly devoid of life, suffering from a lack of original ideas. It simply isn’t fun to watch because it seems like the writers didn’t even try.
The characters are even more frustrating. There is little to no development to any of them. Quite honestly, it’s hard not to hate all of them. The only character that is mildly sympathetic is Basil, but that sympathy is wrecked by the end of the film too. Even the supposed protagonist, Brian Reader, is made to seem like a terrible person. It’s hard to get behind a movie in which you actively want the characters to fail.
The film tries to incorporate humor, but is largely unsuccessful in so doing. There were a few moments in which some audience members may crack a smile, but most of the movie is just painfully dull. The script lacks the bounciness of the great classics of the genre. This is a shame because the film assembled some of the best British comedic actors for its cast.
The actors’ performances have to be the most disappointing aspects of the movie. Every actor seems like they are phoning it in on their roles. Even Michael Caine, one of the most talented actors working today, is uncharacteristically cold and flat with his delivery. Jim Broadbent and Tom Courtenay are also disappointingly bland with their performances.
Perhaps the only level on which the film impresses is a technical one. The cinematography, editing, and score are all pretty solid. They can’t save the movie alone, as the script dug it into too deep of a hole, but they show that there was at least some effort put into the film. If only the effort in the writing stages matched the effort behind the camera.
Overall, King of Thieves was a very disappointing movie. The talented ensemble it features is wasted, as are the talents of Marsh behind the camera. This is unlikely to make too big of a splash.
King of Thieves is available in select theaters and on demand beginning January 25.