King of Thieves

King of Thieves
King of Thieves
Directed by James Marsh
Starring Michael Caine, Jim Broadbent, Tom Courtenay, Charlie Cox, Michael Gambon, Paul Whitehouse and Ray Winstone
In UK Cinemas September 14th, 2018

by Jenna Johnston

King of Thieves is the latest dramatic portrayal of the Hatton Garden heist of Easter 2015; an event that gripped world news for its scale and audacity, and so it should be no surprise that a film about the robbery would be quick to follow. Which it was, a year ago, The Hatton Garden Job was released in 2017. Yet a year later the release of King of Thieves suggests that there’s more of the story to tell and this time with up-scaled cast credentials, including Michael Caine, Jim Broadbent, Ray Winstone and Charlie Cox, as well as the director of The Theory of Everything, James Marsh.

From such a line-up my expectation was understandably high, and King of Thieves fulfils this potential as the characters and motivations are revealed for why these men will be embarking on the biggest robbery in British history. There are moments of tenderness and nuance that are delivered with the mastery you would expect from this dazzling cast. Michael Caine’s quiet grief in the wake of the bereavement of his wife is a touching introduction, and Jim Broadbent’s uneasy sense of imbalance pervades the film. However, these character threads do not linger and we are propelled into the plot before we can effectively engage with them.

As the plans for the robbery unfold, the plot moves at a swift pace filled with clever detail and deftly executed comedy without pause. However, the OAP farce quickly becomes tiresome. Michael Gambon is wasted as an elderly buffoon whose purpose appears to be solely as a device for more gags about deafness and senility. This focus on one-liners about hearing aids and diabetes means that the narrative never comes together and the characters are neither established nor believable (the irony being that this is based on a true story).

Charlie Cox is unconvincing as the protégé or the mastermind and is awkward and clumsy rather than intriguing. In the credits his character is referred to as the best alarm specialist in the UK, but any hint of this is entirely lost and it feels more like he wandered onto the wrong set from Notting Hill 2. Ray Winstone is outstanding starring as Ray Winstone and while Michael Caine, Jim Broadbent and Paul Whitehouse all live up to their talent, the dialogue is so hollow that they also never ascend into their characters. It is perhaps for this reason that you find yourself rooting for the thieves, because it’s not the criminals we’re endeared to, it’s the stellar cast of national treasures that you want to do well, in spite of the poor script.

King of Thieves is fun, nostalgic but ultimately pointless. When key accessories to the robbery are corned beef sandwiches and a thermos it can’t help but make you smile, but also makes you realise that they might have missed the point. There’s nothing new here but it is both charming and entertaining. However, for a film about the biggest robbery in British criminal history with such an A-list billing, it should have delivered more drama, suspense and ingenuity.


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