Five Things About King of Thieves – Brexit, Bechdel and Gun Control

Posted by September 15, 2018 Comment

King Of Thieves is not the sequel to a Robin Hood film but a new movie about the Hatton Gardens raid from 2015, notable in that it was carried out by elderly criminals. Directed by James Marsh, the film stars Michael Caine, Tom Courtenay, Michael Gambon, Charlie Cox, Jim Broadbent, Paul Whitehouse and Ray Winstone. A murderers row of a cast – but none of them dies. It’s not that kind of film, even though it begins at a funeral.

Brexit Means Brexit

It’s the second time the story has been filmed, but the earlier version invented a Big Boss and foreign involvement, which was notably lacking in the events themselves. They are happy for police to believe that its an Eastern European gang, that no British gang would be as organised to pull the job off, this in many ways is your first Brexit movie, though it is set before the referendum. But the British muddling-through is on full display, using a Bank Holiday weekend, and leaving the job halfway through to come back the next day when something goes wrong.

But Not Bechdel

It deliberately fails the Bechdel Test. This is a movie about men, how men change as they age – and how they don’t. How they behave with each other. And the bravado and posturing that takes place. The most prominent female characters through the film are police, and we’ll get onto them. Indeed, it’s the absence of a certain woman which allows Michael Caine’s character Brian to even consider putting the job together, during her funeral.

Only Watching The Detectives

The police don’t speak. We see the detectives as they follow up the robbery, tracking down the suspects, placing plants in their vicinity, recording their words, their actions, their movements at every step of the way. But they never speak, only a final ‘get down on the ground’ as they are arrested. We deliberately learn very little about the police, they are like a force of nature, or jungle animals stalking their prey. The only people we get to know are the crooks themselves.

No Shooters

We are told, quite plainly, that robbery carries a sentence of five years in jail, but armed robbery will see you go down for twenty-three years. It is a purely pragmatic decision for the robbers not to take guns. But there’s also a pride in it, with far more inventive but equally horrible solutions. The one about covering people in petrol and putting on Northern Irish accents is immediately counterposed with ‘no harm done’. When clearly plenty was. But it also lays out the case against police having guns as standard – as the professional crims wouldn’t have guns either. It is notable that through the film no one gets shot and everyone lives.

They Are Bad Guys For A Reason

The film tricks you into liking these people, pandering to them because they are old fellas, then one by one point out how every single participant is a nasty piece of work. Lying, deceiving, tricking each other, plotting against each other and only in it for themselves. Jim Broadbent especially has one scene against Charlie Cox which is an utter standout. And justifies every fear the others have of him. Even in their sixties and seventies.

But it’s their age that gives this film a classic feel. It feels as if this is what hapened to Michael Caine after The Italian Job. And indeed we get a few quick cuts of the leads in previous movies and TV shows to underline the legacy…

King Of Thieves is out this week in the UK. No US date has yet been set.

(Last Updated September 15, 2018 7:17 am )

Related Posts

None found