Review of 'Army of Thieves'

army_of_thieves.jpg A “prequel” to Army of the Dead, “Army of Thieves” tells the story of master safecracker Ludwig Dieter (Matthias Schweighöfer, who also directs). Deiter begins as a mild mannered bank teller named Sebastian who, by night, creates safecracker videos on YouTube. He has a particular fascination with the work of master locksmith Hans Wagner (Christian Steyer) who created four master safes named after the four operas in the Wagner “Ring Cycle” (in order of complexity): Rheingold, Walküre, and Siegfried. There are rumours of a fourth safe: The Götterdämmerung but no one knows where it is though it is suspected to be in Las Vegas where a zombie virus is breaking out…Catching the eye of Gwendoline (Nathalie Emmanuel), he receives a mysterious invitation to what turns out to be a clandestine safecracking competition which he, predictably, aces. Gwen recruits him as part of a team comprised of her, jack-of-all-trades Korina (Ruby O. Fee), rugged bad boy Brad (Stuart Martin), and getaway sidekick Rolph (Guz Khan) who seek to crack each of the safes partly for the money but, as far as Gwen and Deiter are concerned, partly in appreciation of the great Hans Wagner's works…though the other team members prefer to concentrate on the former. They are pursued across Europe by French law-enforcement officials Delacroix (Jonathan Cohen) and Beatrix (Noémie Nakai).

This is a hugely fun film that entertains throughout with a charming leading man (Matthias Schweighöfer) and a series of challenges to complete while being pursued by law enforcement. The zombies of the initial film are largely marginalized as our group of lawbreakers go from heist to heist with ever more unpredictable results. Safecracking on the back of a truck racing along a winding mountain road? Yep, that's right. The best part of the film has to be the charm of Matthias Schweighöfer as Deiter whose enthusiasm, charm and talent as a master safecracker really provide a solid foundation for the plot. Sure, maybe the acting is a bit over the top but the whole film has the feeling of a superhero film so “over the top” is the way it needs to be. Superhero stereotypes left, right and center…

The pace of the film is just the right side of frenetic with the fun use of titles throughout making this feel very much like a comic book film, even more so than “Army of the Dead”. This is a much more fun and engaging film with likeable characters, amazing cinematography and great, if slightly surreal, action set-pieces. It also has to be said that the detail in the safes being cracked is amazing – they truly are works of art and with characters (yes) to match…

A great deal of fun and much more engaging than the sequel “Army of the Dead”. See this one, ignore “Army”.

Rating: “I have absolutely no complaints”

Review Date: 2022-02-13

Directed by: Matthias Schweighöfer

Studio: Pantaleon Films

Year: 2021

Length: 127 minutes

Genre: Action/Adventure