King Of Thieves review: A film about the Hatton Garden heist?  Haven’t we already had one of those?  We sure have – two of them, but they were less than stellar.  So the expectations of third time lucky with James Marsh’s King Of Thieves are sky high.  Especially when it stars three acting knights – Caine, Courtenay, and Gambon – plus Jim Broadbent, Ray Winstone and Paul Whitehouse.

King Of Thieves review

It’s a solid enough assumption.  More’s the pity.  The story is familiar: how a gang of veteran criminals came together for one, probably final, job.  This time their target was the notoriously secure vault in Hatton Gardens at the heart of London’s jewellery quarter, where the safety deposit boxes held millions in cold hard cash and equally cold hard diamonds.  The raid takes place over a peaceful Easter weekend and is only discovered once the doors open again after the holiday.  But afterward, it’s not long before the crooks start to fall out ……

The makers of the film place great emphasis on this version being the most accurate, most true to life.  Caine’s Brian Reader, the leader of the gang, is suddenly alone after the death of his wife and reconnects with his old cohorts (Courtenay, Broadbent, Winstone and Whitehouse), plus a shady young man going by the name of Basil (Charlie Cox) who plays a crucial role in making the heist happen.  Whoever he was, he’s the only one of the gang still at large.  The film, however, spends a large chunk of its running time on the distrust and downright paranoia that infests the gang once they start to divide up the spoils.

The sad thing about King Of Thieves is that it’s the most enormous disappointment.  The top drawer cast is largely wasted: Caine’s good at the pathos of his early scenes but, after that, has very little to do:  Winstone just plays Winstone – again – and Courtenay plays Courtenay: Gambon’s role is almost a re-run of his Private Godfrey from Dad’s Army.  Only Jim Broadbent emerges with any credit, which is a tribute to him as an actor because the characterisation throughout is paper thin and what there is paints a really distasteful picture.  They’re just foul-mouthed old men with outdated attitudes and no real reason for doing the job in the first place.  Loveable rogues – “diamond geezers” as the media christened them at the time – they ain’t.

It gets worse.  For a group of seemingly experienced criminals, they’re staggeringly incompetent.  The bare minimum of planning seems to go into the job and, before the audience knows it, they’re down in the vault, drilling through the concrete wall.  Once the job is done, they’re all utterly useless at keeping their mouths shut in public.  Every time any of them meet up in the pub or café, they insist on talking at the top of their voices, so everybody can hear what they’re saying.  How and why the police didn’t nab them sooner is simply baffling.

The result is a film without credibility or style and one that completely fails to make the most of all the talent invested in it.  By all accounts, its alternative title for the American market is the Over The Hill Mob and it’s a better description of what must be one of the biggest let downs of the year.  After three films on the subject, it must be obvious that the Hatton Garden heist isn’t going to make a good movie.  Time to leave it alone.

King Of Thieves review by Freda Cooper.

King Of Thieves is released in the UK on Friday, 14 September 2018.