‘Army of Thieves’ Review: A Tad Late on the Heist Scene

Army of Thieves is the second movie in the Army of the Dead universe which is being put together by Zack Synder for Netflix. The first movie Army of the Dead was directed by Zack Synder, while this, a prequel to the first, was directed by Matthias Schweighöfer who also doubles as the main character Ludwig Dieter/Sebastian Schlencht-Wöhnert, a safecracker. The movie follows the “boring” and quiet life of Sebastian, which gets unsettled after Gwendoline recruits him to join an international team of thieves. Like Seb, we would all be laughing at the 5-member team. Members of the team are Gwendoline Starr (Nathalie Emmanuel), Korina Dominguez (Ruby O. Fee), Brad Cage/Alexis Broschini (Stuart Martin) and Rolph (Guz Khan). Gwendoline is more of the logistic person, Korina is the team’s hacker, Brad Cage is the guns/action person, while Rolph is the insanely good (not baby) driver. For the most part, they are a standard heist team, except their team has no special skills expert and that is where Schweighöfer’s Sebastian comes in. Their last safe master had been arrested by the obsessed Interpol agent Delacroix (Jonathan Cohen), and now they need a new safe expert for a series of heists that are targeted at 4 unique super safes made by the Legendary Hans Wagner. The safes are in different parts of the world, with the special one stuck in the zombie zone in Las Vegas, which belongs to Bly Tanaka (Hiroyuki Sanada) as shown in the first movie.


Related:

Review: Zack Snyder’s ‘Army of the Dead’ is a Gory Zombie Gala and Nothing More


Army of Thieves poster. Via Netflix

The first safe, located in Paris, is an easy target for the team but things start to get complicated as their foe Delacroix picks up on their activity and quickly figures out their plan. He then sets out to thwart them. During this time, Sebastian’s feelings continue to wax stronger for Gwendoline, all to his detriment as another member of the team gets jealous and leaves him behind to be arrested by Delacroix during their second heist in Prague. The rest of the movie, like they say, is a series of disappointment, betrayal, sacrifice, and romance. As a pure heist movie, Army of Thieves fails, but as the “ romantic comedy heist film” producer Deborah Synder calls it, it is very successful as the audience is taken through a number of heists, all of which are intertwined by love stories. All through the heists, the movie successfully gets the audience not to care about the money but what the main character is going through; and even when the audience is tilting towards the money, Gwendoline is there to remind us that it’s not about the money but the transformation that comes with completing seemingly impossible tasks and defying authority. In Army of Thieves, we see a singular love story expand to a much larger one—Sebastian’s love for safes becomes his love for Gwendoline.

Ludwig Dieter (Matthias Schweighöfer) and Gwendoline Starr (Nathalie Emmanuel). Via Netflix.

 However, the care viewers would have for the main character might be absent as we are aware that his fate lies not in this movie but in the next, Army of the Dead. The carelessness on the part of the audience is then replaced with curiosity as to how Sebastian Schlencht-Wöhnert becomes Ludwig Dieter. Character transformation is well broached upon in this movie as we see another character transform himself but it’s out of spite for their old self. Ludwig Dieter, on the other hand, earmarks Sebastian stepping into the super safecracker role and character he created for himself. Is it the progression of Sebastian from the theoretical safe master to an actual safe master that cements the character of Ludwig and the beginning of his new life with a love interest?


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Ludwig Dieter thrown from his boring Potsdam life to the live action of practical safecracking. Via Netflix

If you are looking for the seriousness and intensity found in Army of the Dead, you would be let down. Understandably, we know that Las Vegas has not completely fallen yet and the zombies are still building in the media. Army of Thieves makes up for its lack of zombies with good stories that end up explaining some of Ludwig Dieter’s absurd actions in Army of the Dead. At the end of the movie, we see why there is a locksmith shop called Gwendoline in Texas; not like we needed that but it establishes the fact that someone is still grieving. We also see the likely reasons that cause Ludwig Dieter to lock Vanderohe (Omar Hardwick) in the safe, but guess who takes the virus to New Mexico at the end of Army of the Dead. Dear Van, Ludwig’s nuclear weapon murdered zombie ghost will haunt you for the rest of your life.

 On the heist scene, Army of Thieves is a tad late and doesn’t do so well coming after Army of the Dead. This could have been well placed if this movie was released before the original Snyder movie, clearing some moments for viewers and establishing motives. But as a heist romantic comedy, the movie does exceedingly well and is great as its own standalone movie, which is good enough. 

Rating: 6/10

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Side Musings

  • We see the making of Fridous’s ‘God’ as she stated in her side musing here (Fret not, this is the WKMUp multiverse)
  • There is an anime in development and work on Army of the Dead 2 has begun.
  • Only heaven knows what becomes of our dear Gwendoline. Assuming there was no nuclear strike on Vegas, I would have given my vote to the zombies to raid any prison where she is being kept. Sadly, they nuked our guy and his zombie comrades. Aluta continua, Victoria ascerta.

Army of Thieves is currently streaming on Netflix

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