Ralph Potts reviews this heist thriller about the inevitable clash between an unbeatable crew addicted to heists, and an elite unit of Los Angeles detectives.
The Review at a Glance:
(max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Universal – 2018
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 130/139 minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Video Aspect: 2.39:1
Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
Starring: Gerard Butler, Pablo Schreiber, Curtis ’50 Cent’ Jackson, O’Shea Jackson Jr., Meadow Williams
Written & Directed by: Christian Gudegast
Music by: Cliff Martinez
Region Code: A,B,C
Release Date: April 24, 2018
Den of Thieves is a gritty Los Angeles crime saga which follows the intersecting and often personally connected lives of an elite unit of the LA County Sheriff’s Department and the state’s most successful bank robbery crew as they plan a seemingly impossible heist on the Federal Reserve Bank of Downtown Los Angeles.
I have to say that the trailer for Den of Thieves showed solid promise and left me wanting to see it. It’s a heist thriller where a group of ex-Military have successfully taken to bank robbing and have now fallen into the sights of a hard-edged anti-crime unit from the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department. Derived using a sort of cat-and-mouse context, the plot is notably formulaic which isn’t necessarily a bad thing but, writer/director Christian Gudegast folds in plot elements that don’t add up given the design of his characters, and the task to which they undertake. Smart characters that do dumb things tend to dilute their effectiveness especially in films that rely on the premise of forward thinking.
I felt that there were too many unnecessary scenes that were seemingly added to support the establishment of the personal relationships among a few characters but, none really felt cohesively folded in. The storyline at lease on a conceptual level was fine but, the essential details needed to make for a smart, engaging crime thriller were sorely lacking. A different approach to integration of the principle characters, their relationship to the primary plot, and better focus on the heists elements would have served it much better. Shaving twenty to thirty minutes (depending on which version you watch) or so off of the runtime might help as well.
Den of Thieves isn’t all bad though and does have moments where tension is on the palpable side. There is a neat little twist that you may or may not, seeing coming as well. I didn’t feel as though my time was wasted here but, it definitely left me frustrated, feeling like a missed opportunity.
Both the theatrical and unrated cuts are included, with the later running approximately nine minutes longer.
The rating is for strong violence, language, and some sexuality/nudity.
AUDIO/VIDEO – By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100/EXCELLENT = 83-91/GOOD = 74-82/AVERAGE = 65-73/BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency effects:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialog Reproduction:
- DSU/DTS Neural:X Rating * (non-rated element):
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black Level/Shadow Detail:
- Color Reproduction:
Den of Thieves comes to Blu-ray Disc from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment featuring 1080p AVC encoded video and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound.
This isn’t a particularly bright film but it manages to strike a good balance between the use of dark and light elements. Certain scenes are bathed in monochromatic/sepia/blue while others appear to use natural lighting and splashes of color. This seems to mate well thematically, and I found the visual contrast interesting. In most regards both light and dark sequences have above average depth with appreciable shadow delineation. White levels are tamped down and blacks are gradational and slightly elevated. Dynamic range is notable as brighter elements tend to have punchy highlights with visible detail. Resolution occasionally fluctuates but in general, detail is clearly resolvable with discerning visual perspective that results in pleasing, multi-dimensional high definition video quality.
This 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack is fairly active and features an engaging surround mix that has extended dynamic range that positively renders the elements in the recording. Where appropriate the mix transforms the listening area into a three-dimensional sound field filled via immersive surround activity that mates perfectly with the events unfolding onscreen. Low frequency effects produce deep bass that rumbles with tactile authority. Dialog is reproduced with lucid expression and exacting clarity that produced just the slightest hint of sibilance in the upper registers. This is a well-crafted sound design that made the experience of watching the film more enjoyable.
- Alternate Ending
- Alpha Males – The cast describes how the tough characters in the film blur the lines between the good guys and the bad guys.
- Into the Den – Director Christian Gudegast and the cast describe the two brotherhoods within the film, the renegades and the outlaws, and their unique sets of skills.
- Alameda Corridor – The cast and director discuss filming the intense scene that take place on the streets of L.A. and the extensive weapons training it took to film it.
- Outtakes and Deleted Scenes
- Commentary with Director Christian Gudegast and Producer Tucker Tooley
- Den of Thieves Theatrical Cut
- Digital Copy
Written/directed by Christian Gudegast Den of Thieves had solid potential but, it’s overbaked, poorly developed script, caused its elements to languish, resulting in a mediocre genre entry. It comes to Blu-ray from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment featuring excellent technical merits mated with a decent assortment of bonus supplements. Den of Thieves isn’t terrible and even qualifies as a fair rental when you’re looking for a little good guy/bad guy flick.
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JVC DLA-RS500 3D/4K Ready High Definition Front Projector
(Calibrated with Calman 5 & C6-HDR Meter from Spectracal)
Stewart Filmscreen – Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16×9 Screen
Carada Masquerade Electronic Horizontal Masking System
Marantz AV7704 Audio/Video Processor
Sherbourn Technologies – 7/200 Seven Channel Amplifier
B&K Reference 200.7 Series 2 Seven Channel Amplifier
Oppo UDP-203 Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
Sony Playstation 3 Blu-ray disc Player
System Controller: Apple iPad/iRule Pro HD Universal Remote Control
Canton “Ergo” and Canton In-Ceiling Series Speakers
SVS Ultra Surrounds (Gloss Finish in Bipolar Configuration)
Dual SVS PC4000 Cylinder Subwoofers
Panamax M5400-PM Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) – Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
AC Infinity Aircom T8 Component Cooling Systems