Incredibly Generic Euro Heist CaperTheWrap

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“Army of Thieves”, a breakout movie by numbers and a prequel to Zack Snyder’s dark zombie caper “Army of the Dead”, traces that previous film without ever improving or even simply replicating its lighter elements, especially its lawsuits and its safecracking shenanigans.

Starring and directed by ‘Army of the Dead’ cast member Matthias Schweighöfer, ‘Army of the Dead’ serves as the origin story for clumsy German Safecracker Ludwig Dieter (Schweighöfer) who, six years before, ‘ Army of the Dead, ”was only Sebastian, a nebulous Leo Bloom bureaucrat. Sebastian’s routine life changes as soon as he is recruited by the free-spirited jewelry thief Gwendoline (Nathalie Emmanuel, “F9”) to break into four highly sophisticated bank vaults, each named after a opera from the cycle “The Ring of Nibelung” by Richard Wagner. . But what should be an “Army of the Dead” side quest often looks like a retread in numbers.

In “Army of Thieves,” Sebastian gives up his unsatisfactory customer service job, represented by unflattering close-ups of angry retirees, and joins Gwendoline’s crack team. You might be wondering: why do these guys want to break into a Wagner-themed safe quartet? Because “it is a question of becoming legends”, boasts Gwendoline without conviction.

Schweighöfer’s character never grows enough to provide answers either, as he’s usually stuck doing a shy schtick with a foreign guy; Sebastian is pretty much always the guy who asks Gwendoline if he’s “excited” when she invites him to join his cracker gang, as if the Ashton Kutcher-run prank show “Punk’d” is still. in a way a universal cultural touchstone.

Sebastian and Gwendoline also form an awkward love quadrangle with two of their fellow thieves – hothead action man Brad (Stuart Martin) and affectionate security expert Korina (Ruby O. Fee). This inevitably divides Gwendoline’s team, although it doesn’t really become a problem until later, when they inevitably have to avoid being captured by Interpol agent Delacroix (Jonathan Cohen) and his frustrated subordinate Beatrix (Noémie Nakai. ).

And yet somehow neither Delacroix’s presence nor Brad’s competition adds a great sense of urgency to the film’s international pursuit, which begins in Potsdam, Germany, and culminates in St. Moritz, Switzerland. Mainly because there isn’t a lot of chemistry between the four main protagonists and the distinctive motifs of their characters are never illustrated beyond the placeholder dialogue, like when Korina asks Sebastian, “So, do you want to kiss or whatever? ” This phrase might have worked in the context of a movie that was actually sexy enough to be shy; instead, this pendant “or something else” looks like an admission of creative defeat.

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Much of the action in “Army of Thieves” also seems underdeveloped, although it is carefully labeled and highlighted for the benefit of distracted viewers. Sebastian’s descriptions of Wagner’s operas – and how they relate to his story – are worthy of moans, especially when he explains to a stressed-out Gwendoline that “Wagner’s work had many themes that were important to him, but all touched on it. to love . ”

This dialogue is bad, but at least it’s not as disappointing as the successive dramatizations of Sebastian’s safecracking – a bunch of expensive but indistinct montages of computer-animated cups and gears. Add in a few loose chase scenes and a few mundane gunshots, and boom, you’ve got a Zack Snyder movie spin-off without any of the idiosyncratic charms of a real Zack Snyder movie.

There’s never a moment in “Army of Thieves” that illustrates why this movie had to happen, especially not when the characters have to show what makes them unique or talk about their generic behavior. There are vague discussions of how everyone in the film, both protagonist and antagonist, plays a role, although no one’s motives are clear enough or well developed to make them likable. Sebastian suggests that Brad, who also changed his name to Alexis, might prefer to act like a “real-life action hero,” in Gwendoline’s words, because he doesn’t like his real personality: “C ‘ is sad he couldn’t learn to love the name he was born with.

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There are also some promising but half-baked comments about the secondary roles played by the women in the film, such as when Gwendoline points out in a climactic moment – and despite Sebastian’s protests – that she made had previously explained to her teammates that she had preemptively disarmed Brad, the happy trigger. Beatrix also constantly rolls her eyes at Delacroix’s tough posture, as when asking him if he really just said “T-minus” while debriefing his team of field agents.

Unfortunately, these scenes often underline how vacant and rote “Army of Thieves” often feels, right down to its best setting: During a fight scene in Snyder-y, Gwendoline disarms and bloodies a group of guards. security quickly and then slowly. then-accelerated. The brutality of this scene goes unnoticed, just as there isn’t much going on with boastful getaway driver Rolph (Guz Khan, Hulu’s “Four Weddings and a Funeral”), who is described as “the best wanderer ever. you’ve never met “, only then not to drift past an early scene. (Presumably because the group’s multi-part heist doesn’t go as planned, although that doesn’t explain why Rolph doesn’t have much of a personality either.)

But it’s so much “Army of Thieves” – lots of moving parts that inexplicably lead viewers toward doom without ever really delivering anything worth remembering.

“Army of Thieves” premieres October 29 on Netflix.


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