Gerard Butler returns to the big screen this year with Den of Thieves, and his movie has some new tricks. The crime drama (written and directed by Christian Gudegast) centers around an elite squad from the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department as they pursue a team of skilled criminals plotting to rob the the Federal Reserve Bank.
The film, with a heist plot that's sure to keep audiences on the edge of their seats, is packed with action, but all that excitement is rounded out by a fascinating character exploration seldom seen in action movies.
'Den Of Thieves' Gives A New Spin To A Familiar Dynamic
There are countless "cops & robbers" movies. Most of the time, pointing out the good guys and bad guys in these stories is easy because the lines between them are clearly drawn. That's not the case with Den of Thieves.
In 2017, Christian Gudegast sat down for an interview with Slashfilm to discuss the movie's unique themes and realistic exploration of police officers and their environment. The director revealed that there isn't a clear distinction between the story's good guys and bad guys. On the contrary. They're ultimately the same kind of people who simply followed different paths in life:
"What's always interested me with the classic movies with good guys and bad guys, the reality is that's not what it is. It's far more fascinating to me that they're basically the same kind of dude, and the way life worked for them –– maybe one grew up without a dad or got in trouble in High School –– they just barely go to the other side. The differences that separate them are virtually nothing."
One of the best examples of this dynamic is the film's lead character, Gerard Butler's Nick "Big Nick" Flanagan. He's an experienced police officer, but he isn't a clean individual. He's corrupt, and his dark side easily puts him on the same playing field as the criminals he goes after on a daily basis. As he stated in the film's trailer, his elite task force is, for all intents and purposes, a gang –– the only difference is that they wear badges.
This Dynamic Is Pivotal To A Realistic Tone
Den of Thieves may not be based on real-life events, but its story is still deeply rooted in reality. During the aforementioned interview with Slashfilm, Gudegast detailed the effort made to ground the movie as much as possible:
"This is the real world. The Chicano experience was covered with 'End of Watch' [...] and the black experience was covered with 'Boyz n the Hood' [...] and 'Straight Outta Compton.' But that part of the world –– the mix of everything –– has not really been covered accurately. That's what we're going to do here [...] Truth is not only stranger than fiction, it's much more fascinating than fiction."
The film's morally ambiguous characters heighten the realism as they emphasize the fact that not everything is black and white in real life. Regardless of their allegiances, the people Den of Thieves explores are ultimately flawed characters trying to live their lives. As Gerard Butler explained during an interview with Flickering Myth:
"[The movie] is gritty, it is real, but has so much heart as well. [You] follow these characters and their families. You see the kind of hardships that they go through and how living this kind of life plays on them. And also how human they really are. At the end of the day, they're still trying to have families they're still trying to live a regular life in some ways."
If you're excited to see Den of Thieves' unique dynamics, the film will hit theaters on January 19, 2017.