The old saying ‘crime doesn’t pay’ takes on a new resonance when watching King of Thieves.
The latest release from the makers of Darkest Hour and Legend – King of Thieves is even more remarkable when you consider it is based on a true story.
It tells the story of a gang of elderly crims and misfits who get together to pull off one of the most daring bank heists in history.
Back in 2015, they stole an estimated 14 million pounds worth of diamonds, cash and jewellery from the Hatton Garden vaults in central London.
With an all-star cast that includes Michael Caine, Tom Courtenay, Michael Gambon and Ray Winstone, this motley collection of aged eccentrics somehow manages to gain access to one of the most secure repositories in London.
The group is ably assisted by a young and somewhat ‘green’ safecracker and computer whiz played by Charlie Cox and nicknamed ‘Basil Brush’, because of his plummy Home Counties’ accent.
While the rest of the gang are wizened, wrinkled and full of ailments, Basil has all of the necessary energy and technical-savvy to beat the computer security systems and get them into the bank.
However, the problem with being a ‘thief among thieves’ is not so much gaining access to the loot, but keeping it.
As the film progresses, the early enthusiasm, camaraderie and trust that was so evident between gang members at the beginning, quickly erodes.
They start to turn on each other – and when it comes to divvying up the spoils – things quickly go ‘pear-shaped’.
Michael Caine plays ringleader Brian: who remains calm and unflustered throughout.
However, the same cannot be said of other members of the gang, with Terry (Jim Broadbent) quickly showing his evil and manipulating side once the loot has been purloined.
His ‘partner-in-crime’ Danny (Ray Winstone) is equally as nasty, and any loyalties they once had to Brian disappear as the film goes on.
The film’s real charm however, is its ability to conjure up memories of past triumphs for some of the gang members.
There is some original footage from Alfie, for example – one of Michael Caine’s most successful early films.
There are also some memorable flashbacks to early UK crime dramas from the 60s and 70s and starring some of the ancient thespians when they were young.
For anyone who remembers these it is a satisfying moment, although I am probably safe in saying it is only a small percentage of the audience.
If anything, King of Thieves is worth a look largely for its sentimentality and memories of a bygone era: a time perhaps, when crime still did not pay, but at least it covered some of the bills.
King of Thieves starts on Thursday February 28 at Luna Leederville, Windsor Cinema and Luna on SX.
By Mike Peeters