King of Thieves (aka The Over the Hill Mob) review by Mark McPherson - Cinema Paradiso
King of Thieves is bound to cause some confusion. Wasn’t Michael Caine just in an old-people heist movie? That was Just Getting Started and the only key difference between the two is that King of Thieves is a more traditional, brass tacks heist picture, more clinical than screwball. It’s a standard and by-the-numbers crime picture that it was most likely a walk in the park for Caine, being no stranger to this genre at all. For the audience having followed him for this long, it’ll also be a familiar stroll.
It is at least pleasing that a capable cast has been strung together for such a picture. Jim Broadbent brings his usual charming self to the screen, stammering and struggling to articulate with great warmth. Tom Courtenay has a certain dignity that doesn’t feel diminished within such a lacking script. Michael Gambon still has his quirkiness in tact after his Harry Potter days to still a hold a scene. And there’s just something so enduring about Ray Winstone that brings a bit of a spark to any film.
You may have noticed that the cast I just listed are all old and the script hasn’t forgotten this. This is why I’ve yet to mention the story because it’s honestly the most boring part of the picture. Essentially, a collective of old guys are getting over the hill and decide to pull off one last heist because, hey, why not? Michael Caine has been doing this a long time, both his character in the film as Caine as an actor. It’s a typical heist picture, through and through. A collective of elders stage their plan, briefly discuss being old, team up with a younger cohort, make their break into a vault, and then bicker about what to do with their loot.
I’m not too disappointed in this picture considering it plays about as expected. But perhaps there could be something more here. I mentioned Just Getting Started, a film I actually dug because Caine and company are portrayed as being amateurs in robbery, a unique turnaround from Caine’s usual forte. But in King of Thieves, he’s among others who appear to have been doing this kinda thing for the longest time. I couldn’t help but feel maybe they’d be worn enough to see the cliches tacked on the wall and willingly try to avoid the usual steps. Then again, the film also wants to pose them as being old and lacking in health so maybe they’re just tired. They’re too worn to subvert this genre and treat it more as a jog around the block to flex those acting muscles a bit.
King of Thieves serves as little more than aged actor showcase that it’s disappointing it’s dished out through a paint-by-numbers heist picture. I loved seeing all these actors together but it just looks as though they’re begging for a better line or a more insightful story. In the same way that The Expendables was a walk in the park for action icon, this film is an amassing of top British talent that is little more than that.