KING OF THIEVES – Review by Susan Granger

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When a director like James Marsh recruits veteran actors like Michael Caine, Jim Broadbent, Ray Winstone, Michael Gambon and Tom Courtenay for an infamous crime-caper, it raises viewer’s expectations.

But hopes are dashed early on as the elderly, often ailing Cockney burglars quibble and complain to one another as they prepare to brazenly burglarize the Hatton Garden Safe Deposit in downtown London in 2015 over Easter weekend.

That heavily fortified vault was used by top diamond dealers and jewelers to store their most valuable merchandise. Estimates put the thieves’ haul at about $250 million.

85 year-old Michael Caine plays recently widowed Brian Reader, who promised his late wife Lynne (Francesca Annis) that he would stay out of trouble. Burt the only time his juices really flow is when he’s planning a heist.

So when Basil (Charlie Cox), a young security/electronics expert, appears at Lynne’s funeral, mild-mannered Brian swings back into action, presenting Basil’s idea to his retired criminal cronies: Terry Perkins (Jim Broadbent), John “Kenny” Collins (Tom Courtenay) and Daniel Jones (Ray Winstone) – with Billy the Fish (Michael Gambon), charged with fencing the loot.

Problem is: these thieving, double-crossing codgers suffer from incontinence, diabetes, and hearing loss, among other debilitating ailments.

Working from a tedious, docudrama-like script by Joe Penhall (“Mindhunter”), Oscar-winning director Marsh (“Man on Wire”) includes clips from cast members in their prolific prime – Caine in “The Italian Job,” Courtenay in “Billy Liar,” Winstone in “Scum” – and alludes to Ealing Studios’classic “The Lavender Hill Mob” (1951), which chronicled a similar story so much better.

And it’s already been done: “Hatton Garden: The Heist” (2016) and “The Hatton Garden Job” (2017). Plus, a TV miniseries starring Timothy Spall scheduled later this year.

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “King of Thieves” is an uneven, forgettable 4 – in some theaters and VOD.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.