Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Review: The Thieves (2012)

The Thieves (Review)
Choi Dong-hoon/Kim Yoon-seok/2012
Where to Watch:
Netflix Streaming
Amazon Prime

"...a fun and exciting blockbuster."

Korean and Chinese thieves unite to steal a valuable diamond necklace from a casino in Macau.

The heist film. They tend to share many, many similarities -- whether it's Ocean's Eleven or The Big Swindle. A huge cast of characters with specific skills, a pinch of humor and wit, some action, a lot of swindling, twists and turns, and a huge payout. Like many before it, The Thieves has all of the above in its story. Fortunately, The Thieves also excels in delivering a distinct and likable cast of characters, some genuine humor and sass, as well as some of the most exciting action sequences.

The Thieves is a "been-there-done-that" plot, but with exceptional execution. Personally, I didn't mind treading the familiar territory, but it's worth noting for those who do. Like i said, despite its story, it delivers lively characters, some laugh-out-loud humor and attractive charm, and some amazing action. And, it blends these elements so well, it feels perfectly balanced and paced. Don't let the long runtime scare you, it moves at the speed of light. However, I didn't like the cheesy love subplot; it's not only cheesy, but it adds little to the film, and ultimately feels like nothing more than a plot contrivance.

On that point, the film also feels somewhat contrived at times. There are scenes where the characters do things, like placing gum or bugs, right in front of the other characters, and these characters are completely oblivious. Also, there are those "these are twists just because I didn't tell you earlier"-type twists; you know, those that you can't guess because the film purposefully omits information -- I didn't mind these that much, but they do feel cheap.

The ensemble cast is fantastic. These characters feel so alive thanks to the charismatic cast. Kim Yoon-seok is great as the lead, and Lee Jung-jae delivers a great complimentary performance. Oh Dal-soo is hilarious, and Jun Ji-hyun is equally funny. (she's not as genuinely sassy as she was in My Sassy Girl, though, sometimes it doesn't feel genuine.) Otherwise, the film has blockbuster written all over it; it looks and sounds fantastic. The English subtitles on the Netflix Instant stream are nearly perfect, too. Director Choi Dong-hoon does well in making a been-there-done-that story fun and exciting again; and, his pacing and balance in superb.

Overall, The Thieves is a great heist film. It's very similar to other films in the genre, but manages to differentiate itself through its distinct cast, as well as its excellent action and humor. It has a few pitfalls, like a dull subplot and some cheap and contrived writing, but it's ultimately a fun and exciting blockbuster.

Score: 8/10
Parental Guide: Violence and blood.

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