This week I was able to get preview tickets to see the latest heist film, "King of Thieves", based on the true story of the Hatton Gardens Heist. The trailers had me thinking this would be a whip smart, darkly comic film with a truly glorious cast. Instead I was mostly bored.
Bored enough to contemplate walking out part way through, which hasn't happened in a film for some time. How then, with such a brilliantly seasoned cast and intriguing subject material, did the film I watched fall so incredibly flat?
Two reasons, terrible characters and a weak narrative.
Perhaps the narrative fails due to it still being a story that's fresh in peoples minds. Most UK cinema goers will enter this film knowing what's going to happen, and with the ending a foregone conclusion you need to make the rest of the narrative work hard to keep the interest. Instead it's a script that has been mostly botched together from transcripts and an article that first appeared in the Guardian. The events are still too recent (particularly for those who suffered from the heist), and the film is too afraid of glamourising the theft, so shies away from making the characters relatable, or allowing it to actually be funny. Too often the humour isn't utilised and it instead feels awkward and forced.
The film makers appear in their desperation to not embrace the full scope of the heist - (because when it's a real life story heaven forbid you glamourise it, yet when it's something like the Ocean's films it's made out to be the coolest thing ever) to have swung too far the other way into boredom and sloppy storytelling. Yet they are still already facing criticism in articles popping up saying they've made the perpetrators too cool, and that it's far too soon to be making a hollywood film about it. Whilst I don't agree with the former statement, the latter is definitely true. By rushing this film out, barely four years after the events, they've botched any ability to tell a good and compelling story without raising uproar.
Surely even a poor script can be saved by a stellar cast though? Not so here, where almost every character is so unlikable it's impressive. There's no one to root for, no one to sympathise with. Instead I was left feeling frustrated and disgusted as these rude and staggeringly incompetent men backstab and slag each other off. I wanted to be swept up in the story, I wanted to enjoy it, yet the only character who creates any sort of interest for the audience is the mostly fictionalised Basil, (Charlie Cox) who is a real part of the heist, but whose character has been created because no one knows anything beyond his role in the heist and the fact that he got away.
This film isn't helped by its release coinciding with "American Animals" another real life crime story that's in cinemas shortly, and has been tackled incredibly well. If you want excellent storytelling and a truly brilliant piece of film making go and see that, and don't waste your time and money on the scraps that have been stitched together to create "King of Thieves."