Sebastian Schlencht-Wenerth (Matthias Schweighöfer) lives an unremarkable life in Potsdam. He works as a bank clerk, at work every day he is yelled at by bank visitors, and Sebastian in the evenings is distracted by keeping a vlog about opening safes – this is his love and his passion. Most of all, Sebastian is fascinated by the idea of opening unique safes created by the great German master Hans Wagner, who was inspired by the operas of Richard Wagner when designing them.
Obviously, no one else shares Sebastian’s hobbies, because his YouTube videos have zero views. However, at some point, the last video has one view, and Sebastian receives an offer to participate in some kind of underground competition to open safes.
Sebastian won this competition, after which a certain Gwendoline Starr (Nathalie Emmanuel), a criminal wanted by Interpol, invites the young man to join their small group, which, in addition to Gwendolyn herself, also includes an old acquaintance of Gwendolyn, who took the pseudonym Brad Cage (Stuart Martin), a cool drift driver Rolf (Guz Khan) and hacker Corina Dominguez (Ruby Ou Fee).
What are they planning to do? Rob those very three Hans Wagner safes located in the banks of Paris and Prague, as well as in the St. Moritz casino. Moreover, if the rest of the team members participate in these robberies primarily to get as much money as possible, then for Gwendolyn these robberies are like a response to a challenge, she also wants to earn a reputation as the person who organized such high-profile robberies.
However, Interpol agent Delacroix (Jonathan Cohen) is on their trail with his assistant Beatrix (Noemi Nakai). He has a special score with Brad Cage, with whom the agent has already dealt.
To be honest, I didn’t hear anything about this film, but I found out about it to a certain extent by accident: I decided to listen to the Movie Interpreters podcast, where they talked about the Arcane series, and it turned out that they were talking about Arcane literally ten minutes, and most of the time of the release was devoted to “Army of Thieves”, and they analyzed this film downright “on serious cabbage soup”, making various claims to the plot, while noting that the movie turned out to be quite funny. Well, I decided to watch it to form my own opinion.
“Army of Thieves” is kind of like a prequel to “Army of the Dead” by Zack Snyder, which I did not watch, and was not going to watch: zombies interest me only in the genre of parodies like “Zombie Named Shaun” or “Welcome to Zombieland”. I also knew that Snyder’s “Army of the Dead” was specifically criticized and that the film had a sub-par rating on IMDB.
Where did this prequel even come from? The fact is that the German actor Matthias Schweighofer played in the “Army of the Dead” a certain Ludwig Dieter, a safe-opening specialist who was supposed to open the safe by Hans Wagner.
Who came up with the idea to make a film from the series “Ludwig Dieter: The Beginning” is not known for certain, but since Matthias Schweighöfer both directed this picture and played the main role in it, it seems that the idea was his. However, the script for the prequel was written by Zack Snyder and Shay Hatten, who also wrote the script for Army of the Dead. Which, in general, is strange, because in fact, in terms of the style of staging, “Army of Thieves” has nothing in common with “Army of the Dead”, and calling “Army of Thieves” a prequel to “Army of the Dead” is, as rightly written in many reviews, a clear “pulling an owl on a globe.”
Well, let’s note that Snyder and Hatten obviously did not tense up when they worked on the script, because from the script point of view everything is pretty bad here: everything is very secondary, illogical and at times frankly stupid.
However, in this case, I don’t really want to make any serious claims to the script, because this is actually a parody of the genre of films about robberies (one underground competition to open safes is worth something: I immediately remembered an underground fashion show without rules from Zoolander “).
The main decoration of the picture is Matthias Schweighöfer himself. When the director simultaneously plays the main role in the film, he can rarely help himself from narcissism. And few people in this case can relate to their character with good self-irony – this worked almost only with Woody Allen. However, oddly enough, Matthias Schweighöfer did it all perfectly: his Sebastian is an absurd, often frankly funny geek with a very strange hobby. And he just doesn’t fit into this band of robbers. However, it is he who opens the safes, and does it very artistically. Cool character: charming and funny, and it is on him that this film generally rests, because we know an order of magnitude less about the rest of the participants in the picture.
Natalie Emmanuel is always nice to see, and the role of Gwendolyn was no exception either – Natalie played this heroine very well, although her character was written very, very clumsily in the script: they say, from a wealthy family, she became an international criminal out of a sense of protest. Well, that’s all.
The rest of the team is even worse. This muscular guy with the extremely ridiculous pseudonym Brad Cage (yes, he took the pseudonym from Brad Pitt and Nicolas Cage) – he is generally about nothing. Is that muscular and combative. The actor is already very similar to Hugh Jackman, and for some reason he was dressed and combed under Jackman, as a result of which it is not very clear what the young Wolverine is doing in the frame – he is from a completely different film.
All that is known about the hacker is that she is a superhacker, a master of all trades.
With a cool drifter driver Rolf, it turned out quite funny. To hell with representing him as a cool driver, when for the entire film he really failed to demonstrate his outstanding driving abilities, it is completely incomprehensible. All we know about Rolf is that he is very dumb and that he constantly eats some sandwiches.
But with the Interpol agent Delacroix, everything is clear and understandable. Here he has a clear motivation: at one time, Brad Cage wounded him in the ass, so he will pursue the criminal company, not sparing that very wounded ass. Here the scenario is all right, you won’t dig.
The film draws attention to the way it is filmed. And it was filmed amazingly beautifully and spectacularly: at times it looks like a cool blockbuster in the picture, although it is clear that the budget of the picture was quite modest. (Besides, who would have entrusted a serious budget to some German guy who had previously staged only four unknown films in Germany). never television and not cheap. Plus, everything is in order with the installation and with the light. However, if Gosha watched the screen, then such a statement is at least somehow explained.
In general, it turned out strange. A bad script, sketchy robberies, stilted characters, but a cool and very self-ironic protagonist, a very beautiful picture, coolly shown processes of directly opening safes, a lot of humor, it looks easy and exciting. No, you understand that you are watching complete garbage, but you do it with pleasure. If only this movie had an intelligent script, it could turn out quite well. But in this case, I did not regret at all that I watched it. Matthias Schweighofer – well done! We need to see something else with him.
Army of Thieves review
Director: Matthias Schweighofer Cast: Matthias Schweighöfer, Nathalie Emmanuel, Ruby Ou Fie, Stuart Martin, Guz Khan, Jonathan Cohen, Noemi Nakai, Christian Steier, Dan Bradford, Tonya Graves
Crime comedy, Germany-USA, 2021, 127 min.