THE HATTON GARDEN JOB
A heist movie in the tradition of British crime capers, The Hatton Garden Job is based on a real-life raid. Crime Scene joins the cast and their concrete-blasting drill on set.
Crime Scene goes on set for the British caper movie based on the real-life jewel heist.
Soon after the Hatton Garden raid hit the headlines in April 2015, filmmakers started to hatch a plan. Described as the largest burglary in English legal history, the audacious heist netted the gang gold, sapphires and diamonds worth up to £25 million. But it was the profile of the raiders – elderly career crooks looking for one last payday – that captured the attention of writers and directors. Several films are in development but The Hatton Garden Job will be the first to reach cinemas.
“With this particular story, everybody said the same: it’s a movie, isn’t it?” says writer and director Ronnie Thompson during a break from filming inside a humid warehouse near London’s Olympic Park on a proper summer’s day. Thompson’s got a track record in hard-as-nails Brit flicks ( I Am Soldier, Green Street 3) but insists this is a more commercial, mainstream film.
With actors including Matthew Goode ( The Good Wife) as a mystery man who organises the raid, Joely Richardson ( Nip/ Tuck) as a Hungarian mob boss and Stephen Moyer ( True Blood) as a crook seeking the contents of a specific safety deposit box, Thompson’s cast gives the crime caper a shot at global success.
“It’s exciting and the story appeals to a broad spectrum of people,” he tells Crime Scene. “There’s no violence, there’s colourful language but it’s within the comedy elements of the story – it’s ‘OAPS 11’, that kind of feel.”
The movie is also a gift for the lineup of older British actors, including Larry Lamb, 69, as ringleader Brian Reader, and David Calder, 70, as Terry Perkins. Danny Jones, another of the convicted raiders, is portrayed by Phil Daniels ( The Long Firm), who’s a youthful 58.
It’s been a physically demanding shoot in the heat as the actors have been drilling through concrete for the sake of authenticity, just as the raiders did on that Easter weekend. “The drill’s not as hard work as we thought it would be,” says Daniels. “But it’s the time that it takes really to drill through a wall.”
Crime Scene can report that it’s also pretty deafening as we witness the actors using the same equipment as the real-life burglars. We also get a tour of the vault, modelled on the safe deposit company in London’s Hatton Garden. Exterior scenes on the four-week shoot have been filmed around the actual location, as well as West Ham’s ground at the London Stadium.
Lamb’s got form when it comes to crime figures, including the Great Train Robbery mastermind Bruce Reynolds ( Buster). But the actor stresses that his performance as Reader is just that. “I’d be absolutely useless, I’d be worried sick,” he says. “The potential for your freedom being taken from you, that’s enough of a deterrent for me. But they’re not like that, it’s a different mindset. That’s what they do for a living – risk their freedom for the loot.”
Calder ( Red Riding) describes the Hatton Garden gang as ageing “adrenaline junkies”, while Daniels openly admires their “bottle”. But there’s no attempt to make them heroic – and they did ultimately get caught. “It’s not elevated into a Hollywood action blockbuster,” says Calder. “It feels like the real thing, which is filled with silliness and [ making plans] over a pint in a shitty pub. It’s not glamorised. It’s more Ealing than Hollywood.”
The actors playing the gang members hope the real-life villains – currently serving prison sentences – get to see the movie of the heist. “I’m sure they’ll be over the moon inside, the boys,” says Daniels. “Obviously they’ll think everyone’s making millions of pounds out of it and they’ll want a few quid.”
When The Hatton Garden Job hits cinema screens exactly two years after the raid, there may be a hint of nostalgia surrounding the last of these old-style villains. “When I was a kid, I always used to hear of Securicor vans getting turned over and bank robberies, but it doesn’t happen any more,” says Thompson. “It seems like thefts now are cyber crime or opportunistic and incredibly violent. This was a planned, well-organised and wellexecuted theft. They always say fact is stranger than fiction, and I think this is a good example of that.”
“IT FEELS LIKE THE REAL THING. IT’S NOT GLAMORISED. IT’S MORE EALING THAN HOLLYWOOD ”