King of Thieves

It’s no wonder movies derive many stories from real life. ‘Truth is stranger than fiction’ is an oft used phrased with everyday events often more compelling than anything a writer can dream up. ‘King of Thieves’ is no exception. Based on the daring Hatton Garden safe deposit burglary of 2015, it uses its situation and veteran cast to fair effect. With suitably crackling dialogue, ‘King of Thieves’ reveals a mostly entertainingly dark side to the art of thievery.

Brian Reader (Michael Caine) is an elderly former thief doing his best to walk a straight path. Temptation and boredom swiftly kick in when he hatches a plan for a daring raid on a safe deposit containing a fortune. He gathers a group of similar crooked misfits including Terry (Jim Broadbent) and John (Tom Courtenay) who eagerly join in. The events before, during and after the raid changes them all with the public reaction not all what anyone expects.

‘King of Thieves’ tries its best to educate as well as amuse. Directed at a leaden pace by James Marsh, the story never fully takes flight. None of this is the fault of the actors who are all superb. This isn’t the usual ‘aren’t old gangsters funny’ type caper, but one full of individuals still determined to make a score at any bloody cost. There’s no honour among these thieves with the performers effectively revealing the latent underbelly of brutality beneath the veneer of old age.

Whilst the story is generally involving, letting it down is the uneven pacing and narrative hooks. ‘King of Thieves’ is never sure if it’s a comedy, drama or thriller, with all three never fully blending. The nods to the actors’ past performances are welcome and successfully convey their dodgy past. If the script had been tightened with better focus on each character it may have worked more.

‘King of Thieves’ is still worth anyone’s time although it isn’t as great as hoped. It’s always a pleasure seeing veteran actors do their thing with all adding to their thespian mystique. Real life always provides a fascinating and influential well of incidents such as ‘King of Thieves’ show although it’s advisable not to follow its’ character’s crooked habits.

Rating out of 10: 6

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