Film Review: King of Thieves


A crew of retired crooks pulls off a major heist in London's jewellery district, but what begins as a nostalgic last hurrah for the group quickly becomes a brutal nightmare when greed overtakes them.

Our review:  

After the death of his wife, 76-year-old career criminal Brian Reader (Michael Caine) enlists a bunch of geriatric ex-con mates (Jim Broadbent, Ray Winstone, Tom Courtenay and Paul Whitehouse) and young protégé Basil (Charlie Cox) to pull off one of the largest diamond heists in British history.

The film is based on the real-life 2015 Hatton Garden burglary, where a group of elderly thieves stole more than $370,000 worth of diamonds, cash and other valuables from a vault used by jewellers in London’s Hatton garden district.

The film is slow compared to other crime capers and there are few classic heist movie tropes – no elaborate planning, team-gathering, police chases, daring escapes or clean getaway – but that may be because, at its heart, this is a movie about aging. It’s not just dire financial straits motivating the robbery, they’re “raging against the dying of the light”. 

The criminals struggle with hearing aids, incontinence, replacement hips, insulin shots and a tendency to fall asleep on the job. They gripe about the rise of the internet and eBay and make fun of the younger Basil for relying on technology. 

In an interesting touch, old clips of the actors as young men in movies such as The Italian Job and Billy Liar are used for flashbacks along with music from the era.

It’s pleasing to see veteran actors, once known for playing heart-throbs and goons, aren’t resigned to doddering grandpa roles. When the old cons turn on each other you’re reminded of Caine and Winstone’s captivating performances as ‘hard men’ and leg-breakers during their heyday. 

As one character says of Caine’s Reader, “He may seem like a sad old man but he’s capable of severe nastiness when he’d cornered.” 

Final verdict: 3/5


James Marsh


Michael Caine, Charlie Cox, Michael Gambon, Ray Winstone, Jim Broadbent, Tom Courtenay and Paul Whitehouse.

Film Rating: M

If you like this movie, try:

Ocean’s Eleven, The Bank Job, Public Enemies, The Italian Job.

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