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George At 

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Den of Thieves

I went into DEN OF THIEVES expecting very little and it blew me away, a fast moving action thriller in the same vein as on one of my favorite films, the Pacino/DeNiro masterpiece "Heat".

Pablo Schreiber (13 Hours) is Merrimen, the highly trained former special serviceman now heading up the boldest gang of bank robbers in the history of Los Angeles.

As the film opens, Merrimen and his crew stage an armored car heist. What you realize right away is that the fire power of this movie is going to blow you through the back wall and that writer/director Christian Gudegast (London Has Fallen) brings a strong sense of style with him. He's no Michael Mann, and this isn't "Heat" but there are moments that get in the same neighborhood, and that's pretty damn good.

In the opening moments, it even FEELS like "Heat" with the wet streets of LA, drenched in a score by Cliff Martinez that feels lifted from Tangerine Dream's score for Mann's fim.

Gerard Butler is in-your-face as "Big Nick" O'Brien, the leader of an elite LA Special Crimes unit. He becomes obsessed with understanding and capturing Merrimen.

The lines between the good guys and the bad guys blur as O'Brien and Merrimen begin to respect each other while taking very different sides of the law.

When Merrimen launches an audacious plan to rob the impenetrable Federal Reserve Bank in downtown Los Angeles, the film kicks in, giving us an understanding of his ingenious plan while it confuses the hell out of us on who to root for during the heist.

O'Shea Jackson Jr. (Straight Outta Compton) is very good as a bold getaway driver that Merrimen brings aboard. Maurice Compte (Narcos) is strong as Benny 'Borracho' but 50 Cent is pretty weak mumbling his way through his role.

Once the caper begins, its non-stop suspense and action. The amount of ammunition unloaded in the final 30 minutes must set some sort of record, with both sides of the heist meeting in a confrontation that spills out over LA in a hail of gunfire.

Dripping machismo, Butler and Schreiber make formidable adversaries. Both are focused, both have questionable morals and reprehensible behavior, but both actors know how to play these types of characters for maximum impact, covered in blood, sweat and adrenaline.

Who are the good guys?

Who are the bad guys?

Who cares. This is a great action film that far exceeds expectations on the way to an A.

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