Upon seeing King of Thieves listed as a Limitless preview screening, I immediately snapped up the opportunity to see it because I had been looking forward to it since the first trailer I saw. With a well-known cast, an iconic real life heist story, and a classic ‘British crime’ aura, I was anticipating something great. I really can’t understand how they managed to mess that combo up, but here we are. Out of all the reviews I’ve ever written, this one is probably the hardest because of how disappointed I feel. As a film fan it’s difficult when you get yourself hyped up, only to be let down by the finished result.
For me, King of Thieves started off promising then rapidly declined into a bit of a mess. If it weren’t for a few redeeming features, I would’ve rated it even lower. One of the positives to come out of this film is the performances; it’s no surprise to any of you that these are actors at the top of their game, and I believe they worked as hard as they could with what they had. I don’t have a problem with any of the actors, my main problem lies with how utterly awful and cringe-worthy the screenplay was. They had an opportunity to work with some brilliant talent, but even they couldn’t save this film.
I appreciate the script was trying to encapsulate the ‘tough, working class London’ stereotype through these characters, but for me there was too much swearing and casual racism/homophobia than actual exposition. We learn barely anything about these characters, with the exception of Michael Caine’s, so all we see for almost two hours is a bunch of old men arguing and swearing constantly. We aren’t encouraged to connect or sympathise with any of them, none of them are particularly three dimensional, so you find yourself hating everyone on screen. Even a little emotional moment here and there would’ve been nice. With no chemistry between characters, the heist becomes very dull indeed.
If the weak script wasn’t bad enough, I wasn’t impressed with the cinematography either. The film seems confused throughout, not really sure what visual styles it wants to settle on so it jumps about here and there. As a result, this is very jarring and I found it hard to watch. The camera is all over the place, it doesn’t seem to have any fixed techniques, and it becomes a nuisance more than anything. That being said, the heist scenes themselves were very well-shot which is even more frustrating for me. How can you shoot certain things brilliantly, then mess up others? It doesn’t make any sense. If anything, it’s proven that the people involved did have the potential to create something great, but somehow managed to throw it all away.
King of Thieves feels a lot like a straight-to-DVD crime film that you might watch on a lazy Sunday afternoon when you’re a bit tired or hungover. It’s certainly not the kind of cinematic, high-quality film I would expect to see on the big screen. It’s mildly entertaining and delivered a few laughs, but ultimately it’s forgettable. My advice for this film would be: don’t let them rob you of a ticket, catch it on TV instead.