Thursday 15 November 2018

King of Thieves movie review: 'a frustratingly clunky affair, and a tad uneven, tone-wise'

2 stars

Ray Winstone, Paul Whitehouse, Michael Caine, Jim Broadbent and Tom Courtney (Jack English/STUDIOCANAL)
Ray Winstone, Paul Whitehouse, Michael Caine, Jim Broadbent and Tom Courtney (Jack English/STUDIOCANAL)

Chris Wasser

The Hatton Garden jewellery heist of 2015, the “largest burglary in British legal history”, receives the cinematic treatment for the second time in 18 months.

Listen, we didn’t actually see 2017’s The Hatton Garden Job, with Matthew Goode and Larry Lamb, but we can only hope it was a little neater than director James Marsh’s problematic effort, King of Thieves.

The story goes that a gang of elderly, retired thieves planned and, indeed, carried out the burglary over the 2015 Easter weekend. Marsh’s flashy project (which takes its cue from a Vanity Fair article, ‘The Over the Hill Mob’), throws us right in the deep end, introducing us to an ageing widower named Brian Reader (Michael Caine) who, with the help of a young electrician, Basil (Charlie Cox), rounds up some old criminal buddies, to break into the Hatton Garden Safe Deposit company, an underground safe deposit unit in London.

The mates (portrayed by Ray Winstone, Paul Whitehouse, Tom Courtenay, Jim Broadbent and Michael Gambon) do what they have to do and, later, as authorities begin to close in on them, our retired friends begin to squabble over who gets what (well, they did make it away with millions of pounds in cash and jewels).

It’s an unbelievable true story. Unfortunately, this fractured reconstruction leaves a lot to be desired. Honestly, King of Thieves is in such a rush, that it hardly has time to answer the important questions, such as who exactly these men were.

Caine is trying hard, but some of his co-stars are sorely miscast. Plus, the relentless jump cuts make for disorientating viewing. It’s a frustratingly clunky affair, and a tad uneven, tone-wise. In short, it’s a wasted opportunity.

King of Thieves, cert 15A

Also releasing this week: Crazy Rich Asians movie review: Crazy in love with this old time romcom

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