- 12 Feb 18
Cops and robbers heist flick collapses under the weight of its cliches testosterone.
There are no good guys in Christian Gudegast’s cops-and-robbers bank heist thriller, where the police are as violent and hardened as the criminals. Prime example? Big Nick O’Brien (Gerard Butler), the swaggering foul-mouthed alpha of the LA Sheriff’s major crimes department. He smokes, wears a leather jacket and chows down on doughnuts picked from of the blood-splattered box of a murder victim. Why? Because he’s a Tough Guy, that’s why!
Big Nick’s adversary is Ray Merriman (Pablo Schreiber), a former member of the military elite who has turned into a methodical, bank-robbing maestro. Among Merriman’s crew are Enson (50 Cent) and new recruit Donnie (O’Shea Jackson Jr.), a genial bartender who can drive a getaway car like a bat out of hell. Merriman has a plan to rob the LA branch of the Federal Reserve, but Big Nick has already clocked Donnie, and violently intimidates him into turning informant. Whose side is Donnie on?
All the tired tropes are here: the cat-and-mouse mindgames, the inevitable strip club scene, and the classic bait-and-switcharoo. Even Gudegest’s attempts to imbue his characters with some humanity feels clichéd: Big Nick has marital problems; 50 Cent uses the gang to terrify his daughter’s prom date; and Merriman has an honour code around killing civilians. Butler and Schreiber manage to transcend their characters’ stereotypical traits and give compelling performances, resulting in a gripping stand-off, but the caricatures of machismo cause the film to drag its knuckles.