“Do you want to go see King of Thieves on my behalf?” asked one of my co-workers, who was too busy to attend. Or, he is according to this blog, and definitely wasn’t just sitting at home in his pants eating Pot Noodle after Pot Noodle.
“Sure, I’ll go watch King of Thieves, but hasn’t that film been out for, like, 22 years?” Alas, he wasn’t asking me to review the direct-to-video animated sequel to Aladdin, but the true crime story, King of Thieves, about the retired crooks who pulled of a major heist in a London jewellery store.
From the very opening title sequence, I thought King of Thieves was going to be a stylistic, if not a tad corny, crime-comedy caper. Starting with a brief black and white history on Hatton Garden, only to be followed by cast names that whizzed on and off-screen, moving alongside spinning vault dials and locks, it seemed positive. However, throughout the movie, the style became less apparent. One scene was shown entirely on various CCTV cameras, which after the sixteenth sentence to be uttered through a green, faded monitor, you’re not thinking “This is cool”, but thinking more “I really need to get my retina checked, after this…”
It wasn’t all bad. There were moments that caught my fancy. Throughout the movie, old archive footage of the leading cast’s earlier work is spliced into the movie, to illicit flashbacks to the criminals’ younger years doing heists. I can’t tell if I found this quite a nice nod to the cinema of yesteryear, or just a cheap distraction to divert a movie fan’s attention from the probably lousy scene happening.
Not only was I hoping for a flash, slick crime caper, but with such a talented cast, I also longed for something genuinely funny. From the promotional images alone, you can spot which of the characters were going to be the comic relief – Michael Gambon hunches over with his dishevelled hair and ill-fitting suit, for one. However, the famed actor has three lines throughout the entirety of the movie; none of which are funny. In fact, there are very few funny lines throughout the entire 108 minute runtime. What King of Thieves needed was to be smarter. It relief solely on toilet humour.
Tom Courtenay farted in a jacuzzi and said “Better out than it”; a line I think I etched into my mathematics book at the age of 9, because it was at that age (and that age only) that that line was funny. There’s also only so many times you can hear the tired ol’ gag of old men needing to wee, because their bladders are buggared. And to add insult to injury, we often have to see them weeing too. Because nothing says humour quite like steaming piss coming out the end of an Oscar-nominated actor’s junk. Speaking of, we’re even treated to a sight of Jim Broadbent’s bare bum, because bottoms are funny too. It was at this point I felt most enraged, because Jim’s character was a diabetic and needed a shot of insulin, so insists – on multiple occasions – on having it injected into his arse. This is totally unnecessary. I’m a diabetic. I do my insulin in my belly, my arm, my legs. You’re a fraud, Jim, trying to get cheap laughs. Now take that worryingly pert arse out of here.
I imagine a smart, intelligent version of Last Vegas. Instead, what we got was an immature movie featuring old men attempting to be funny. So, y’know, Last Vegas…
King of Thieves is, without a shadow of doubt, a film for fathers. Every old dad would aspire to be a hard geezer, like Michael or Ray, swearing and doing what they shouldn’t be able to do at their age. It’s aggressive and has simple enough humour. It appeared that the older generation in the screening were laughing. After all, one character’s hearing aid kept failing to work. #Comedy. If you’re a fan of the likes of Taken, The Commuter, Non-Stop, or any movie starring Liam Neeson post-2008, you’ll probably enjoy King of Thieves. Otherwise, just do what the staff of Hatton Garden did, and take the day off.