King of Thieves

SC King of ThievesWith the increasing number of films focusing on retirees involved in heists, you cannot help but wonder what is with Hollywood’s obsession with having grey-haired actors participating in criminal activity.

This ‘Oceans Octogenarian’ trope could be looked at in many ways; a defiance of stereotypes to highlight a lack in the visibility of older adults, an obsession with nostalgia where older actors relive previous roles, or just fine actors given an opportunity to do what they do best.

Whatever the case, there is a tough act in balancing the right level of earnest as there is avoiding coming off as patronising, which in Studiocanals caper, King of Thieves, is never fully achieved.

In his second foray into the heist genre in as many years, King of Thieves stars Michael Caine in the recounting of the 2015 Hatton Garden safe deposit burglary which was devised by an experienced group of ageing British thieves.

King of Thieves focus is both on the heist and the events that follow, with many of the characters noting the aftermath of the robbery being harder than the physical heist. Dialogue is unapologetically rough and speaks to class struggles in England, with many aspects using tart language and intimidation tactics that are a sharper cut than an expensive piece of jewellery.

Caine, hardened from the loss of his wife, does a solid job playing an ageing-bus-taking-gangster whom as easily would threaten to destroy someone if betrayed as he would offer them a cup of tea had they been a guest in his home.

The cast of well-known British actors including Jim Broadbent, Tom Courtenay, Paul Whitehouse and Michael Gambon commit wholeheartedly to their characters but are let down by a script that presents them as senile and ultimately contradicts the films overarching message relating to the representation and treatment of seniors.

No stranger to building tension, director James Marsh delivers on the heist elements of King of Thieves in a sequence that is both fast-paced and grounded-in-reality, however, over-treats other components of the film by including an overpoweringly loud score and flashback snippets that prove unnecessary.

King of Thieves is a fascinating albeit flawed detailing of class that despite being a film surrounding the robbery of jewellery, never manages to find gold.

King of Thieves
Starring: Michael Caine, Jim Broadbent, Michael Gambon, Tom Courtenay, Charlie Cox, Paul Whitehouse
Director: James Marsh (Man on Wire, The Theory of Everything)
Classification: M

King of Thieves screens nationally from Thursday 29 February 2019. For more information, visit: for details.

Image: King of Thieves (film still)

Review: Hagan Osborne