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Film / Den of Thieves

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Den of Thieves is a 2018 American heist film co-written, directed and produced by Christian Gudegast. The film stars Gerard Butler, 50 Cent, Pablo Schreiber, O'Shea Jackson Jr., Evan Jones, Dawn Olivieri, Mo McRae, and Max Holloway.

The film is a gritty crime saga which follows the lives of an elite unit of the LA County Sheriff's Dept. and the state's most successful bank robbery crew as the outlaws plan a seemingly impossible heist on the Federal Reserve Bank.

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Den of Thieves contains examples of:

  • Air-Vent Passageway: Donnie escapes from the basement of the Reserve by crawling up an air vent to the second floor.
  • And the Adventure Continues: A villainous example. The movie ends with Donnie and his real crew in London, laying the ground work for a new heist at a diamond exchange.
  • Armed Blag: The gang's opening gambit is hijacking an armoured car when it stops for breakfast. The twist is that the car is empty.
  • BFG: When Merrimen is stuck in the traffic jam and sees the deputies advancing on him from behind, he pulls out a SAW from the back of the truck and sets it up on the bonnet. The deputies are taken completely by surprise when he fires through his own vehicle to attack them, killing one of them in the first volley of shots.
  • Blast Out: At the start of the film, Merrimen and his crew are holding the armoured car guards at gunpoint while they hijack the armoured car. Things are going according to plan till one of the guards goes for his gun (or possibly just drops his coffee). Bosco shoots, a firefight kicks off that leaves one robber, most of the guards and several cops dead, and several others injured.
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  • The Cameo: MMA fighters Max Holloway, Oleg Taktarov and Michael Bisping all have bit parts.
  • The Chessmaster: Donnie. First, he spends years working at a bar that he knows is frequented by employees of the Federal Reserve, and uses his service job to eavesdrop on their conversations to accumulate enough information to plan the heist. Then he lets Merrimen in on the heist, convincing him that Merrimen and his crew get to reap the lion's share of the cash. He plants his own people inside the Reserve to facilitate access to the Reserve, or enable lifting the prize out of the garbage dumpster. This trope most clearly shows when he deliberately allows both Merrimen's crew and Nick's posse to subject him to Butt-Monkey treatment, causing both groups to grossly underestimate him. He lets Merrimen think Merrimen's crew will take the most active role in pulling off the heist, but in truth he is taking the relatively safest role for himself while allowing Merrimen's crew to take all the physical risks upon themselves. Once he's made it to the garbage dumpster, he switches out the prize cash to his own driver, and leaves Merrimen's driver with useless shredded cash. Merrimen dies without ever knowing he's been double-crossed, as it's Nick who opens the bags with the shredded cash. He also has no issue with walking down the street from the Reserve to present himself as an easy nab for Nick, but the point there is that he's all too ready to give up Merrimen's location to Nick. Then he picks his handcuffs and escapes while Nick's posse is engrossed in an intense and extended fire fight with Merrimen and his crew. And to top it all off, he uses his cash to open a bar in London near the diamond exchange, so that he can gather intel for a heist on the exchange, and coincidentally setting up a Sequel Hook along the way.
  • Corrupt Cop: O'Brien announces that his crew is basically a gang with badges and that they'll shoot suspects rather than take them in.
  • Defective Detective: O'Brien is a dirty cop who is constantly hungover and has a terrible home life.
  • Delivery Guy Infiltration: Donnie gets a job at as a delivery guy at a nearby Chinese restaurant; knowing that employees at the Federal Reserve often order lunch from there and he will be legitimately allowed into the building to deliver it. This forms part of his exit strategy following the heist.
  • Dressing as the Enemy: Merrimen and some of his crew disguise themselves as armored car escorts to infiltrate the Fed Reserve.
  • EMP: Donnie uses a short range EMP device to fritz the camera in the counting room. How the crew got hold of this device is unclear, but it can be assumed that Mack, the team's technical expert, probably has contacts.
  • The Ending Changes Everything: The ending shows that Donnie was the real master mind behind the heist. He recruited Merrimen and his crew intending the set them up to take the fall, while he and his crew made it off with the $30 million.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Merrimen's gang is trained to "shoot uniforms, not civilians."
  • Five-Second Foreshadowing: During the final shootout the cops warn the bystanders in their cars to get down in such a way that the engine block is between them and the bullets, letting the audience know that Concealment Equals Cover is not in effect. By the end of the scene, Merrimen is shot through a thin metal fence.
  • Flat Character: There is no character development in the film. The closest we get is that one character is different from how we thought.
  • From Camouflage to Criminal: The bank robbery crew is made up exclusively of ex-Marines.
  • Go Seduce My Archnemesis: After a fight with his soon-to-be ex-wife, O'Brien goes to a strip-club and picks up the dancer who is Merrimen's girlfriend and has sex with her at her apartment, intending to both antagonize Merrimen and obtain information from the girl. This trope comes into play when the audience finds out that Merrimen anticipated this, let it happen and used her to feed O'Brien misinformation.
  • Gray and Black Morality: The cops flout the law when the have to, and the crooks don't kill civilians, but they still mass-murder cops.
  • The Heist: Merrimen and his crew are planning a heist on the Federal Reserve Bank in Los Angeles: the 'bank for banks'.
  • Inappropriate Hunger: O'Brien is introduced stealing a donut from a blood-spattered box at a crime scene.
  • Insecurity Camera: Justified. The guards immediately notice when the cameras goes on the fritz, but cannot send anyone one to check it because the counting rooms are in Lock Down due to the brownout. They keep an eye on the fuzzed screen and do their best to fix it from the monitor room, and send someone to investigate as soon as the lock down ends.
  • Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: O'Brien and his cops grab Donnie after the robbery at the Fed, then handcuff him to inside of their truck and beat him till he tells them the location where Merrimen and the rest of the crew are meeting up.
  • Large Ham: Big Nick O'Brien. The scene when he's signing the divorce papers with his wife says it all.
  • Lock Down: The Fed goes into lockdown in the event of a brownout, with all power being diverted to keep the security systems functioning. Merrimen and his crew use this to their advantage in planning The Heist; deliberately triggering a brownout to initiate a lockdown.
  • Police Brutality: O'Brien and the Major Crimes Squad have no issues with beating information out of a suspect.
  • Product Placement: Carl's Jr bags.
  • Semper Fi: Merrimen and his crew are all former Marines who have gone From Camouflage to Criminal. A big deal is made about how their military training discipline and training makes them far more organised and dangerous than your average gang of gangbangers.
  • The Snack Is More Interesting: O'Brien is eating or drinking in almost every scene where he's not shooting a gun.
  • Suicide by Cop: During the final showdown, Merrimen—having run out of bullets—slams an empty magazine into his gun, making Big Nick think that he has reloaded. He then comes out and points the empty gun at Nick, forcing Nick to shoot him.
  • Tattooed Crook: All of the bank robbery crew except Donnie sport prominent tattoos. So do most of the deputies, who are depicted as being little better than a gang themselves.
  • Throwaway Guns: When running from Big Nick at the end of the film, Merrimen throws away his assault rifle. Justified as the rifle is out of ammo, and Merrimen is looking to disencumber himself to make it easier to escape.
  • Trojan Horse: The crew smuggle Donnie into the Federal Reserve counting room by hiding him inside a currency box, concealed by bundles of cash.
  • Twerp Sweating: When Levoux's daughter's date shows up to collect her for the prom, Leveaux leads him into a room filled with Tattooed Crooks who very politely threaten him.


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