DIAMOND GEEZERS

Kentish Gazette Canterbury & District - What's On - - NEWS -

In April 2015, Hat­ton Garden - Lon­don’s famed jew­ellery quar­ter - be­came the scene of a dar­ing and au­da­cious rob­bery.

Over the Easter Bank Hol­i­day week­end when the street was closed for busi­ness, a team of crim­i­nals de­scended a lift shaft to ac­cess the base­ment then used a heavy-duty drill to bore through walls, pro­vid­ing them with ac­cess to a vault of safety de­posit boxes filled with price­less trea­sures. The thieves ran­sacked dozens of boxes and es­caped in a wait­ing van. News­pa­pers spec­u­lated wildly that the stolen haul could be worth as much as £200 mil­lion. Around six weeks af­ter the rob­bery, the Metropoli­tan Po­lice an­nounced nine ar­rests and a gang of 60- and 70-some­thing ca­reer crim­i­nals were un­masked as the per­pe­tra­tors of the au­da­cious heist.

King Of Thieves drama­tises the rob­bery, of­fer­ing one ex­ple­tive­laden ver­sion of events mas­ter­minded by screen­writer Joe Pen­hall. Con­sid­er­ing the rich source ma­te­rial and an Os­car-cal­i­bre cast led by Sir Michael Caine and Jim Broad­bent, di­rec­tor James Marsh’s film is cu­ri­ously de­void of sus­pense or en­gag­ing char­ac­ters.

The only thing sep­a­rat­ing this lack­lus­tre tale of dodgy geezers and di­vided loy­al­ties from Lock, Stock And Two Smok­ing Bar­rels’ count­less im­i­ta­tors is the ad­vanc­ing years of the cen­tral pro­tag­o­nists. Ca­reer crim­i­nal Brian Reader (Sir Michael Caine) - who in real life hails from Dart­ford - is dev­as­tated by the death of his wife, who made him prom­ise that he would “stay out of mis­chief” when she was gone. He com­mis­er­ates in the com­pany of friends and as­so­ciates in­clud­ing ex­u­ber­ant tech­ni­cal wizard Basil (Char­lie Cox), who hopes to per­suade Brian to lead a dar­ing heist. Basil claims to have in­sider knowl­edge about the se­cu­rity sys­tem and lay­out of the Hat­ton Garden Safe De­posit Ltd, which holds mil­lions of pounds in cash and un­cut di­a­monds in its vault. Brian con­sid­ers break­ing his prom­ise to his wife with as­so­ciates Terry Perkins (Jim Broad­bent), John Kenny Collins (Sir Tom Courte­nay) and Danny Jones (Ray Win­stone), who urge the vet­eran thief to lis­ten to Basil be­cause, “If you don’t have a go, some­one else will”.

The men start their re­con­nais­sance and in­volve an­other friend, Carl Wood (Paul White­house), plus a fence called Billy “The Fish” Lin­coln (Sir Michael Gam­bon), who will shift any jew­ellery and gems through his un­der­ground net­work.

King Of Thieves strug­gles to pick­pocket our un­di­vided at­ten­tion for 108 min­utes. Caine, Broad­bent and Courte­nay are al­ways watch­able but the script doesn’t test their act­ing met­tle while Gam­bon em­braces his thinly sketched char­ac­ter to com­i­cal ef­fect.

Marsh stages the piv­otal rob­bery with as­sur­ance but his film wilts in com­par­i­son to just re­leased Amer­i­can An­i­mals.

Jim Broad­bent, Ray Win­stone and Char­lie Cox

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