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Watch This Review

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Movie Review

Banks get robbed. It's a fact: Some 2,400 banks are hit each year in the United States alone. Some robbers painstakingly plot their elaborate heists. Others give little thought to their thieving strategy.

Merriman is definitely in the former category. He only ever approaches a job with complete planning and obsessive detail. He never wavers from the plan, and he constantly enforces that doctrine with his crew. He's a brooding former Marine who always seems right there on the razor's edge—always thinking, always focused, always explosively dangerous.

Merriman’s latest scheme is something so “special” that it involves several intricately linked smaller heists, crimes designed to distract anyone from noticing the big one that’s coming. No, Merrimen is definitely not your typical crook.

Big Nick, the guy in charge of L.A.'s major crimes division, is no typical cop, either. He's a boozy, chain-smoking, blustering blister of a man who always takes his team of bruiser cops to the rough-and-dirty edge of things. The law? That by-the-book stuff generally equals a whole lotta paperwork. And when you're struggling with a hangover, stomping your way through the underbelly of the city's strip joints and watching your personal life crumble, hey, paperwork is the last thing you want to hassle with.

Fact is, these two guys and their crews are completely different, but much the same. They know their stuff. They're big and hard-hitting. And they don't mind getting dirty when the need arises.

In the course of Merrimen's plans, for instance, a teammate screws up, a mistake that ends up killing four police officers, and wounding some half a dozen more.

Hey, sometimes it happens.

While digging into that deadly crime, Nick and his crew pick up one of Merrimen's underlings, get a little boozed up and then beat that low-level stooge 'til he's ready to give them something to work with.

Hey, sometimes it happens.

Merrimen and Nick, then, are two wizened, wily gunslingers, each playing his own perilous card game. And even if they don't know it now, both are running toward the same read-'em-and-weep ending: Somebody's gonna win the pot and somebody else is gonna be aces over eights.

Sometimes it … well, you know.

Positive Elements

We see two different men, Nick and a thief named Levi, who both have family lives outside their daily "jobs." These scenes could be viewed as cautionary statements of sorts about how a hard life (especially when it involves illegal or illicit activity) can take a severe toll on the things we hold most dear. In Nick's case, we also see the painful effect his rash choices have on his wife and innocent young daughters.

Spiritual Content

Though he’s definitely not a spiritually focused man, Nick wears a cross throughout the movie. As a guy bleeds to death from a neck wound, the cop who shot him says, "You in His hands now."

Sexual Content

We see several prostitutes in skimpy streetwear, women who’ve obviously just been with Nick and his fellow officers. A scene showcases some nearly naked strippers. The camera shows us another completely unclothed women who apparently spent the night with Nick (who’s also shown shirtless).

A man’s wife wears a very revealing dress. Merrimen crawls out of bed wearing just his underwear. Nick makes crude comments to a guy about his genitalia and the sexual assault he'll have to endure in prison.

Violent Content

"You're not the bad guys, we are," Nick snarls at one of Merrimen's crew. And Nick and his crew follow through on that statement, regularly demonstrating just how “bad" they can be. They drink heavily, beat and choke a potential witness and brag that they rarely arrest thugs they encounter. "We just shoot you," Nick grins.

Several shootouts involve high-caliber automatic weapons that tear apart everything from armored vehicles to police officers wearing body armor. At least 20 or more people are graphically killed or left crumpled and writhing in a pool of their own blood. We see people shot in the legs, arms, neck and chest.

One of the numerous heavy assault rifles on hand is so large that it literally rips up the sheet metal of some 10 to 20 cars sitting behind it in traffic. (It’s implied that some of the vehicles’ occupants are killed in that attack, along with quite a few gun-wielding cops and outlaws). It's also suggested that one member of Merrimen’s crew kills a hostage, but we later see that the innocent individual is still alive.

Crude or Profane Language

About 85 f-words and more than 20 s-words join a couple uses each of "h---," "d--n," "b--ch" and "a--." There are also a few uses of the n-word; God's name is combined with "d--n."

Drug and Alcohol Content

Nick chain-smokes throughout the film. He and his posse also drink pretty heavily. A number of different patrons drink shots, beer and mixed drinks in a various bars scenes. Merrimen and his crew share some beers at one point.

Other Negative Elements

The whole movie is, obviously, about criminals plotting to pull off a massive bank robbery.

When Nick eventually receives divorce papers from his wife, a teammate cynically welcomes him into the club of officers who have lost their marriages, too.

Conclusion

With a single glance, it's easy to see that the Den of Thieves publicity team is doing its best to market their film as a modern-day Western. Outlaws and Regulators, the posters and trailers whisper in a deep dusky tone. Choose your side.

You can almost taste the wind-blown grit and hear a tumbleweed blowing by an abandoned inner-city lot. And the film does all it can to bolster this violent story’s gun-on-your-hip vibe.

Here you have two groups of hard men. They're all deadly, all smart, all seasoned, all violent. And neither group lets some ol' piddling thing like the law get in their way. They're real men of the Wild West … only on the streets of South Central Los Angeles.

Of course, when this film’s urban gunslingers take aim, it's not just six-guns popping and a few errant bullets zinging off a tin shed. No, it's an explosive war. These modern-day killers wield weapons that tear and mangle. Scores of cops, crooks and passersby die bloodily in a sheet-metal rending blur of bullets.

Even though we're encouraged to look at this fairly well-structured flick as something like a high-stakes poker game—maybe even to see it as a bit of a count-the-cost cautionary tale—that's not so easy to do. The gunplay feels too grisly and graphic. The men’s choices are too raw and too brutal.

And even when one player outwits another and lives to tell the tale, it all feels far too nasty to cheer about.

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles

Profanity/Violence

Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality

Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews

Credits

Rating

Readability Age Range

Author

Cast

Gerard Butler as Nick Flanagan; 50 Cent as Levi Enson; Pablo Schreiber as Merrimen; Dawn Olivieri as Debbie; O'Shea Jackson Jr. as Donnie; Evan Jones as Bosco

Director

Christian Gudegast ( )

Distributor

STX Entertainment

Network

Performance

Record Label

Platform

Publisher

In Theaters

January 19, 2018

On Video

April 24, 2018

Year Published

Awards

Reviewer

Bob Hoose

Content Caution

Kids
Teens
Adults
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