Den of Thieves

"See? You can trust me. I'm Jewish."

Christian Gudegast, writer of “A Man Apart” (2003) and “London Has Fallen” (2016), makes his directorial debut with “Den of Thieves,” and it’s everything he’s been building toward as a creator of generic, testosterone-driven crime dramas that offer nothing new.

Gerard Butler stars as Los Angeles cop Nick Flanagan. Since he’s an L.A. cop over the age of 40 in a movie, you may assume he’s disheveled, hungover, and going through a divorce. Remember the TV show “The Shield”? Flanagan and his crew are a lot like Vic Mackey’s hard-partying, legally questionable strike team, right down to the leader being the only interesting one. They stumble across what they think might be a crew of bank robbers led by one Ray Merrimen (Pablo Schreiber), and they think that this team might be responsible for a string of unsolved “highly sophisticated, well-executed heists.”

The cops are right about that, which we know because this is a cops AND robbers story, about both sides. Merrimen’s crew includes Levi (50 Cent), Bosco (Evan Jones), and Donnie (O’Shea Jackson Jr.), who all lead normal lives except for the bank robbing. Donnie, an ex-con working as a bartender, gets grabbed up by Flanagan’s team and pressured for info about what Merrimen and company are up to. From that point on, however, the movie keeps us in the dark about how much Donnie is compromised, how much he really knows, and how much of an advantage the police have over the criminals.

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C+ (2 hrs., 20 min.; R, pervasive harsh profanity, brief strong violence, some nudity.)