Den of Thieves (Blu-ray) (2018)

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Released 2-May-2018

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Audio Commentary-Director Christian Gudegast and Producer Tucker Tooley
Featurette-Into The Den (2:06)
Featurette-Alpha Males (2:04)
Featurette-Alameda Corridor (3:13)
Outtakes-x 8
Trailer-for 12 Strong
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2018
Running Time 140:00
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Christian Gudegast
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Gerard Butler
Pablo Schreiber
Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson
O’Shea Jackson Jr.
Evan Jones
Meadow Williams
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI ? Music Cliff Martinez


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
English Audio Commentary DTS HD Master Audio 2.0
English Descriptive Audio DTS HD Master Audio 2.0
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.40:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.40:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

     At the start of the film a text superimposed over an armoured van driving down night-time streets advises that Los Angeles is the bank robbery capital of the world with a robbery every 48 minutes. The van stops so that the guards can get donuts; heavily armed man appear and a shoot-out takes place before the robbers drive away with the van. Rogue cop Nick O’Brien (Gerard Butler) and his team from the LA Sheriff’s Major Crime Unit recognise the MO as most likely belonging to recently released from prison robber Ray Merriman (Pablo Schreiber) and his crew but are puzzled by the fact that the van was empty when it was stolen. In fact Merriman and his team, including Enson Levoux (Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson), Bosco (Evan Jones) and driver Donnie (O’Shea Jackson Jr.), are planning to use the van in an elaborate plan to rob the LA branch of the Federal Reserve, the one bank in LA that has not been robbed, of $30 million.

     Nick and his team track down Donnie. They abduct him and none too gently persuade him to provide information about Merriman and their next job. Merriman is aware of Nick’s interest and they two play a cat and mouse game, or indeed an information and misinformation game, until the heist takes place, when neither Nick nor Merriman get quite what they expected.

     Den of Thieves is co-written and directed by Christian Gudegast. This is his first feature although he does have a few credits as a writer including A Man Apart (2003) and London Has Fallen (2016), if those can be considered recommendations. Just about every reviewer has pointed out the obvious influence of Michael Mann’s Heat (1995) on Den of Thieves and this is inescapable; Den of Thieves has intense shout outs in the Heat style, it is a long film that gradually develops the characters of antagonists on both sides of the law, who in many ways are mirror images of each other, the dialogue and banter is gritty and realistic and even the score by Cliff Martinez is reminiscent of the electronic Elliot Goldenthal Heat score.

     Den of Thieves is not in the same league as Heat, but few crime films are. While Heat had well rounded characters on both sides of the law, Den of Thieves deals exclusively with the marital problems of Nick with his estranged wife Debbie (Dawn Olivieri) and his relationship with his two young daughters. We really know nothing about Merriman, the only slight look into the family life of the gang is a scene at Levoux’s house with his daughter. In a film this long there could have been more personal pieces which would have resulted in a well-rounded group of adversaries. However, the concentration on Nick allows a grizzled Gerald Butler far more than some of his usual one dimensional action roles and he does a good job in making Nick a flawed, yet believable, man; he is not even the cleverest male in the film! Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson is better than expected while O’Shea Jackson Jr. is also very good.

     Den of Thieves has been criticised for being too long at 140 minutes but I don’t agree. Between the intense action sequences at the beginning and the shoot-out amid stalled cars at the end, the film is never less than interesting as the cat and mouse between Nick and Merriman plays out, while the heist at the Federal Reserve, which is not an action sequence as there are no shots and no fights, is tense and well-staged. The film is not always strong on logic, as is often the case with heist films where a suspension of belief is mandatory, but it is always engrossing and the twist is nicely delivered.

     When watching Den of Thieves it is hard not to think about Heat, which is rather a pity for judged solely on its own merits Den of Thieves is a gritty, impressive crime action film with intense, loud, chaotic shoot-outs that indicates that Christian Gudegast has more promise than his CV suggests. A sequel to the film has already been announced.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     Den of Thieves is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.40:1, in 1080p using the MPEG-4 AVC code.

     Shot using Arri Alexi cameras, Den of Thieves looks as one would expect for a recent action film: detail is strong, blacks and shadow detail are excellent while the colours mostly, and especially at night, have that digital glossy neon look. Daylight scenes are colour manipulated and glary while the bar scenes have diffused red lighting. Contrast is consistent. The chaotic, quick moving action sequences do not show motion blur although a couple of other sedate scenes against a mottled background do. Otherwise marks and artefacts were absent.

     English subtitles for the hearing impaired are available.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     Audio is English DTS-HD MA 5.1 plus English descriptive audio (DTS-HD MA 2.0) using a male voice. The audio commentary is also DTS-HD MA 2.0.

     Dialogue, including quips, is natural, and muttered, so it is sometimes hard to hear. In scenes without action there is crowd and ambient sound, engines and helicopters overhead, and music. The audio in the action sequences puts us right inside the chaos. The shootout amid a traffic jam is breathtaking. The various weapons have different sounds, and all around the sound stage bullets and ricochets hit cars and buildings, there is breaking glass, yells and shouts; chaos in the extreme. All the action is fully supported by the subwoofer.

     As noted in the review, the electronic score by Cliff Martinez is reminiscent of Heat but is effective nonetheless.

     There are no lip synchronisation issues.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Start-up Ad

     On start-up an ad plays for 12 Strong (1:32); it cannot be selected from the menu.

Audio Commentary

     Director Christian Gudegast and producer Tucker Tooley sit together, watch the film and chat non-stop about locations and sets, training the cast, changes in scripting and things that were scripted but could not be shot for various reasons, the look of the film, the music, where scenes were changed around in the film, and mention, briefly, films that inspired them. They talk about what is on screen a bit but also about how they strived for accuracy and authenticity on both sides of the law.

Featurettes

     Three short EPK featurettes with film clips, some behind the scenes footage and brief comments from director Christian Gudegast and cast Gerard Butler, Pablo Schreiber, Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson and O’Shea Jackson Jr.. The first two explain the story; the third is better as it shows preparations for and the filming of the shootout in the traffic jam at the end, with addition comments by the SFX supervisor and executive producer. The featurettes are:

Outtakes

     A combination of extended scenes and new scenes, some, but not all, are on the extended version of the film (see the Region comparison below). In the first one the microphone boom is obvious. There is no play all option; each scene must be selected individually from the menu. The scenes are:

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     The US Region A Blu-ray of Den of Thieves includes both theatrical and extended cuts of the film, all the extras on our version plus an alternate ending (4:51) and two film trailers. The variations between the two versions can be found here. I would call this a marginal win to the US, as reviewers indicate that the extended version adds little of value.

Summary

     If you are going to emulate another film, you may as well pick one of the best in the genre. Den of Thieves draw heavily on Heat but does plenty of good things in its own right, so it is well worth a look for fans of the genre.

     The video is very good, the audio impressive. The extras are lightweight EPK except for well done commentary and the deleted scenes.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Friday, December 21, 2018
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

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