Film Review: ‘King of Thieves’

Variety | 9/19/2018 | Guy Lodge
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Nobody has as much energy as they used to in “King of Thieves,” which is partly the point. James Marsh’s true-crime heist movie is built around two remarkably high figures: first, the £14 million value of the loot, making the burglary in question the largest in British legal history, and more crucially, the average age of the culprits, almost all of whom were veteran criminals well into retirement.

The Hatton Garden jewelry heist made international headlines in 2015, but could have been a story dreamed up in Ealing Studios’ midcentury prime: A Vanity Fair article on which this film is based was even titled “The Over-the-Hill Mob.” Small wonder, then, that British film producers have been swift to jump on it. Yet this proficiently polished thriller (the second big-screen treatment of the story in two years) seems to feel a creak in its own joints: Torn between jaunty genre hijinks and a bleaker streak of realism, it’s a strangely stiff, lethargic account of a cracking tale.

US - Distribution - King - Thieves - Blighty

Though it’s still waiting U.S. distribution, “King of Thieves” has already opened in Blighty to solid returns — opening against the buzzier “Crazy Rich Asians,” and outdoing its screen average, proving once more the power of the “gray pound” at the British box office. Senior-skewing hits like “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” tend to be more unisex in focus, but this strictly old boys’ affair, led by a weary Michael Caine in native Cockney form, evidently has enough marquee appeal to cross quadrants. It certainly dwarfs the profile of last year’s less studio-slick “The Hatton Garden Job,” even if that film arguably had a little more B-movie spring in its step.

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Marsh - Film - Credit - Sequence - Vintage

Marsh’s film begins perkily enough, with a slip-sliding credit sequence and vintage soul soundtrack combining to set a japey, swinging retro...
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