King Of Thieves is a dead cert contender for the top five worst films of 2018. This is a film that is so bad it is offensive, whilst also being consistently offensive within itself. Billed as being an ‘unbelievable true story’ the truly unbelievable thing about it is that at least some viewers somehow manage to watch all 108 insufferable minutes of it.
Brian Reader (Michael Caine) was a famous thief back in the day. Now aged 77 and recently widowed – having promised his wife that he’d be good – he’s tempted back for one last job. Basil (Charlie Cox) has an in for the Hatton Garden Safe Deposit and a plan on how to rob it. Brian gets a motley crue together, a total misfit band of criminals who’ve known each other for decades. There’s Terry (Jim Broadbent), John (Tom Courtenay), Carl (Paul Whitehouse) and Danny (Ray Winstone). They manage to escape with the equivalent of £200 million but as soon as the crime becomes public knowledge, tensions and resentments come flocking to the surface.
Forget ‘what happens when bad movies happen to good actors’. This is a film that truly and tragically under uses some of the finest actors to come out of Britain. Not only that, it gets them to do stupid, unfunny, insulting and degrading things throughout. The script is so uneven it stumbles at every hurdle with truly awful dialogue. There’s even jokes about ‘poofs’ and how good ‘Poles’ are when it comes to patios. There’s also the underlining allusions to Cox’s character being ‘different’ with some quirks – the less said about these the better. And, whilst aware it might sound prudish to take issue, I can’t think of another recent film that included the f-word so frequently, so often and so needlessly. Any novelty at hearing Caine, Broadbent, Courtenay, Whitehouse and Winstone swearing or cursing wears out very quickly indeed. Not to mention just how ill-served and badly treated Micheael Gambon as Billy “The Fish” Lincoln is treated.
Another truly painful factor that once seen cannot be unseen is the fact that, of the many police officers who feature, only one actually speaks. We observe them investigating, survealling and researching – but never is a word actually uttered. They wordlessly move and communicate. The reason for this would be to keep budgets down, if an extra is featured with dialogue then their fee goes up. It’s a trick used regularly in tv and film, but never has it been so prominent or noticeable. It becomes very distracting and probably the funniest thing about the film. Having mute police officers could have been a deft social commentary with the pen of another writer. Instead it’s another jarring feature in what is overall a jarring feature film.
At certain points the film has quick cutaways of the actors in their prime, in iconic moments in some of their most classic films. It could have been a tribute to the high calibre of the cast. Instead it becomes a reminder of the low calibre of this film, making you wish you were watching an old favourite instead.
Anything but this.
Dir: James Marsh
Scr: Joe Penhall
Cast: Michael Caine, Jim Broadbent, Tom Courtenay, Charlie Cox, Paul Whitehouse, Michael Gambon, Ray Winstone
Prd: Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner , Simon Fraser , Amelia Granger, Ali Jaafar, Michelle Wright
DOP: Danny Cohen
Music: Benjamin Wallfisch
Run time: 108 minutes
King Of Thieves is available on DVD now.