King of Thieves (2018): ‘The Older Heist’ – A Film Review



Based on the real events of the Hatton Garden Safe Deposit burglary back in 2015, King of Thieves is one of this year’s Heist films. It has been speculated that there has been a recent boom in Heist films and certainly there have been a few to come out this year. However, I’ve noticed a certain tendency for films that centre around elder generations such as Last Vegas, The Lady in the Van, Going in Style and Finding Your Feet. This almost works like films that provide an all-female alternative like Ghostbusters (2016) and Ocean’s Eight. Whether we’re seeing Heist films making a comeback or indeed there’s an interest for elderly stars in films, King of Thieves is certainly both.


The Elderly

Being based on real events may help the interest in the film but likely this helps the plot to be more interesting a little more, as well as how they carried out the particular Heist in the first place. Though the Heist doesn’t seem to be the centre of the film, but the characters themselves are. We see characters rise and fall as the fragility of friendships and the working relationship of crooks are tested. What we get is a very British film, heavy on banter between the leads: Michael Caine (Brian Reader), Jim Broadbent (Terry Perkins), Ray Winstone (Danny Jones), Tom Courtenay (John Kenny Collins) and Charlie Cox (Brasil). They actually perform the film wonderfully and are able to keep the film up through most of the proceedings.


The Plot

Despite some interesting shots and inventive use of stock footage, to add some intrigue to what’s going on, largely the story and look of the film just plods along; happy to do what it needs to get the story out. Despite being based on true events, and perhaps because of it, there isn’t much that goes on. The film focuses on interpersonal relationships but works under the guise of a Heist – adding to the idea that the best Heist films are those that take a different spin on the genre. It’s perhaps better to think of the film as a crime drama and not much more.



King of Thieves is left as a run of the mill film and perhaps mostly left for fans of the stars or of those interested in the initial heist the film depicts. There is certainly a lot going on beneath the surface to do with the character relationships but there isn’t much to entertain. The film isn’t necessarily completely unsuccessful but it just doesn’t have the big impact that it could have had. It doesn’t suck you in as much as it could. King of Thieves leaves a lukewarm impression at best.



After the death of his wife Brian Reader (Michael Caine) is sucked into undertaking a heist with many other old time and veteran crooks. But pulling it off tests their friendship and the alliance that they have with each other.




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A Note on My Reviews

Please read ‘On Reviews‘ for a guide to how I write film reviews. Any spoilers are appropriately marked and, though I personally prefer to know little about a film before seeing it, there is a synopsis below the review for any who wish to see one.


Films Mentioned

Finding Your Feet (d. Richard Loncraine UK 2017)

Ghostbusters (d. Paul Feig USA 2016)

Going in Style (d. Zach Braff USA 2017)

King of Thieves (d. James Marsh UK 2018)

The Lady in the Van (d. Nicholas Hytner UK 2015)

Last Vegas (d. Jon Turteltaub USA 2013)

Ocean’s Eight (d. Gary Ross USA 2018)


Further Reading

Official Site

Interview with Michael Caine

Interview with Ray Winstone

Interview with James Marsh

American Animals, King of Thieves and Widows: How Heist Films Are Changing (I appear as a guest writer)


If you liked this

Den of Thieves (2018): ‘Emotion and Plot’ – A Film Review

Finding Your Feet (2017): ‘Heart-warmers and Tearjerkers’ – A Film Review

Ghostbusters (2016) – A Film Review


This was an analytical review of….


King of Thieves (d. James Marsh UK 2018)


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