Den of Thieves (film)

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Den of Thieves
Den of Thieves poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byChristian Gudegast
Screenplay byChristian Gudegast
Story by
Produced by
CinematographyTerry Stacey
Edited by
Music byCliff Martinez
Distributed bySTXfilms
Release date
  • January 19, 2018 (2018-01-19)
Running time
140 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
Budget$30 million[2]
Box office$80.5 million[1]

Den of Thieves (released in some countries as Criminal Squad) is a 2018 American heist action film[3] written, directed, and produced by Christian Gudegast. It stars Gerard Butler, Pablo Schreiber, Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson, O'Shea Jackson Jr., Evan Jones, Dawn Olivieri, Mo McRae, and Max Holloway. In the film, a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department gang look to stop a group of thieves consisting of ex-MARSOC Marines that is planning to rob the Federal Reserve in Los Angeles.

Den of Thieves was distributed by STXfilms and released in the United States on January 19, 2018. The film received mixed reviews and grossed $80 million worldwide. A sequel is in development.


In Los Angeles, a team of ex-MARSOC Marines led by Ray Merrimen hijack an armored truck. The ensuing shootout with police leaves several dead, including one of Merrimen's crew, as the hijackers escape with the empty truck. Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Detective Nick “Big Nick” O'Brien and his team, the Major Crimes Unit, investigates the robbery, making the recently paroled Merrimen his prime suspect. Nick's team kidnap Donnie Wilson, a bartender who confesses to acting as the thieves' unarmed getaway driver. He describes a large sum of cash stolen from a stadium by the crew, but denies knowing their future plans and is released.

Merrimen and his crew prepare to rob the heavily guarded Federal Reserve: with approximately $30 million in old bills removed from circulation each day, they plan to steal the untraceable money before it is shredded. Nick's team tails Donnie, who is hired as a Chinese food delivery driver, allowing him to deliver inside the Federal Reserve. A confrontation with Nick leads Merrimen's crew to suspect Donnie is an informant. Interrogated at gunpoint, he admits he was questioned by Nick; to his surprise, Merrimen orders him to tell Nick when the heist is taking place. Donnie informs Nick but denies knowing the location. Nick sleeps with Merrimen's girlfriend, who – acting on Merrimen's instructions – reveals the crew will be robbing a bank in Pico Rivera.

On the day of the heist, as Nick’s team waits nearby running surveillance, Merrimen's crew takes the Pico Rivera Savings & Loan bank hostage, demanding a ransom and a helicopter. When the FBI attempt to negotiate, the crew appears to execute a female hostage. The thieves access the vault and detonate explosives inside, leading Nick to realize this is not their usual M.O. He impatiently storms the bank himself to find the hostages alive, bound and hooded while the thieves have blown their way into the sewers and escaped.

Merrimen and his right-hand man Enson infiltrate the Federal Reserve, using the stolen armored truck and stadium money to pose as security guards dropping off cash. Donnie, hidden inside a cart of cash, is wheeled inside a counting room as the thieves disrupt the room's power, making it seem like a common brownout. The employees are briefly sent away, and Donnie triggers an electromagnetic pulse to disable the room's cameras as he sends the bills earmarked for shredding safely down the trash chute. Crawling through an air duct to the restroom, he leaves the building in his delivery uniform as Merrimen and Enson depart.

A garbage truck picks up the trash containing the money and is intercepted by the thieves. Nick's team capture Donnie and beat him into revealing Merrimen's escape route. Stuck in traffic, Merrimen's crew spot Nick’s team approaching and exchange fire; Deputy "Borracho" and thief Bosco are killed. Fleeing on foot with Nick in close pursuit, Enson is killed and Merrimen is severely wounded. Cornered, Merrimen raises his empty gun, forcing Nick to fatally shoot him. Instead of the money, only bags of shredded paper are found in Merrimen's vehicle, and the FBI inform Nick that all currency is accounted for at the Federal Reserve, while Donnie has escaped.

Nick revisits Donnie's bar only to learn he has quit. Noticing the bar is frequented by Federal Reserve employees, and spotting a picture of Donnie and his friends, Nick realizes Donnie is the heist's true mastermind: gathering information from bar patrons, he was able to plan the entire robbery, and recruited his friends to intercept the money and double-cross Merrimen's crew. Having shipped the money offshore to Panama and escaped to London with his accomplices, Donnie is working at another bar across from a diamond exchange – his next target.



The film was in development for roughly fourteen years, where director Christian Gudegast and a writing partner had a blind deal with New Line Cinema in 2003. The project was also later supposed to be distributed by Relativity Media at one point as well. Jay Dobyns, who played the character of Wolfgang, was a former Special Agent and undercover operative with the BATFE and served as a consultant for this film.[6]

Filming locations[edit]

Production began in January 2017. Director of photography, Terry Stacey, shot the movie using the Arri Alexa XT Plus digital motion picture camera. Although set in Los Angeles, California, Den of Thieves was primarily filmed in and around Atlanta, Georgia. Aerial shots of Los Angeles included the Vincent Thomas Bridge, the Federal Correctional Institution, Terminal Island and the skyline of Downtown Los Angeles.


Box office[edit]

Den of Thieves grossed $44.9 million in the United States and Canada, and $35.7 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $80.5 million, against a production budget of $30 million.[1]

In the United States and Canada, Den of Thieves was released on January 19, 2018 alongside 12 Strong and Forever My Girl, as well as the wide expansions of Phantom Thread, I, Tonya and Call Me by Your Name, and was projected to gross $7–10 million from 2,432 theaters in its opening weekend.[7] It ended up performing above projections, debuting to $15.3 million and finishing third at the box office behind holdover Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle and 12 Strong.[2] It dropped 43% to $8.6 million in its second week[8] and another 47% to $4.6 million in its third.[9]

Critical response[edit]

On the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a "Rotten" 42% rating, based on 137 reviews, and an average rating of 5.1/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Den of Thieves pays energetic homage to classic heist thrillers of the past; unfortunately, it never comes close to living up to its obvious inspirations."[10] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 49 out of 100, based on 24 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[11] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B+" on an A+ to F scale.[2]


In February 2018, it was announced a sequel was in development with Gudegast signed on to return to write and direct. Additionally, Butler and Jackson Jr. were in talks to reprise their roles.[12][13]


  1. ^ a b c "Den of Thieves (2018)". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. Retrieved June 17, 2018.
  2. ^ a b c D'Alessandro, Anthony (January 19, 2018). "January Slows As 'Jumanji' Takes No. 1 For 3rd Weekend With $19M To $20M; Older Guy Pics '12 Strong' & 'Den Of Thieves' In Mid-Teens". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media. Retrieved January 19, 2018.
  3. ^ "Den of Thieves (2018) - Christian Gudegast". AllMovie.
  4. ^ "Gerard Butler & Pablo Schreiber Reveal How They Bulked Up for 'Den of Thieves'". Retrieved 10 August 2018.
  5. ^ Tabuena, Anton (February 8, 2017). "Holloway lands movie role next to Gerard Butler, 50 Cent". Bloody Elbow. Vox Media. Retrieved March 3, 2017.
  6. ^ Giroux, Jack (January 4, 2018). "'Den of Thieves' Set Visit: Making the Impossible Kind of Possible With Curtis Jackson and Gerard Butler". /Film. Retrieved January 4, 2018.
  7. ^ Faughnder, Ryan (January 17, 2018). "Afghanistan war film '12 Strong' to battle 'Jumanji' reboot for top box-office spot". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 17, 2018.
  8. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (January 28, 2018). "Fox Controls Close To 40% Of Weekend B.O. Led By 'Maze Runner' & Oscar Holdovers; 'Hostiles' Gallops Past $10M". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media. Retrieved January 28, 2018.
  9. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (February 4, 2018). "'Jumanji' Poised To Be Dwayne Johnson's Highest Grossing Pic Of All-Time Stateside After Super Bowl Weekend Rebound". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media. Retrieved February 4, 2018.
  10. ^ "Den of Thieves (2018)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved October 10, 2021.
  11. ^ "Den of Thieves Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved February 13, 2018.
  12. ^ Busch, Anita (February 13, 2018). "'Den Of Thieves' Gets Sequel With Gerard Butler, 50 Cent, Filmmakers Reuniting; STXFilms Distributing Worldwide". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media. Retrieved February 13, 2018.
  13. ^ Baraheni, Esfandiar (April 30, 2018). "Director Christian Gudegast Talks Den Of Thieves Sequel & New 50 Cent TV Show". Def Pen. Retrieved May 29, 2018.

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