A group of advanced age crooks gets together for one last heist. In this retelling of the infamous Hatton Garden Heist, older men and one younger manage an impressive heist only for their group to fall apart due to disagreement and infighting.
Based on a magazine article by Mark Seal, written by Joe Penhall, and directed by James Marsh, King of Thieves starts off as a fun story of retirees getting excited and pep in their step at the prospect of pulling off one last job. The film starts off as they do, happy, fun, ready for (almost) anything, then as the film advances, they become tired and feisty, which translates to the viewer slowly losing interest as the film goes on and on. This leads to the film feeling like it takes too long for its story in the last third. The epilogue being written on the screen feels a little off and makes one wish it were filmed or at least with background images.
The cast of King of Thieves is composed of a who’s who of older UK actors with Michael Caine leading the charge, giving one of his typically good performances, something akin to an older self in the original The Italian Job. Working alongside Caine are Ray Winstone, Jim Broadbent, Michael Gambon, Tom Courtenay, Paul Whitehouse, and the sole younger man of the team Charlie Cox. Broadbent is great as the oftentimes a-little-lost Terry Perkins, a partially grumpy, partially lovable older man looking out for himself but also looking to get the upper hand. Winstone and Gambon complete and complement the group of older gents with personalities that sometimes work with, sometimes clash with the others. Playing the odd man out, Charlie Cox does good work as Basil but his part feels like it’s missing something, like his character is incomplete, something most likely due to the writing and/or directing. Otherwise, his work goes well with the rest of the cast, being a man with some mystery.
The film’s look is basically as expected for a heist film with a side of English gardens, like a cross between The Bank Job and Hot Fuzz with a sprinkling of Coronation Street; it’s familiar and comfortable for fans of UK films and television but not entirely unfamiliar for those who are not into UK entertainment. The cinematography by Danny Cohen helps create this and gives the film an almost quaint feel at times. The editing by Jinx Godfrey and Nick Moore helps bring a dynamic to the action, even when it’s simply a bunch of old guys planning a crime or arguing. Completing the look inside the images presented are the set decoration by Celia Bobak and the costume design by Consolata Boyle who come together to make the film feel as realistic as can be within its settings. The whole film fits together due to all those people and others’ work, showing a great cohesiveness in the production.
King of Thieves is an interesting take on heist films in that the crew is a bunch of retirees and it’s based on a true story. The cast here is fantastic, including at least one older actor that any viewer will recognize if not all of them. The younger man rounding out the crew should also be very familiar, especially for Netflix users. Here he does good work along the much more seasoned cast, but feels a bit held back. The film as a whole is fun but it loses steam in the last third or so and the epilogue of text on black background brings it down a lot in its last few minutes. It still leaves the viewer with a fun experience overall and a bird’s eye view into an infamous UK crime that is superbly acted but unfortunately a touch too long.