Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
New ‘Ant-Man’ Photos; Movie May Include More Marvel Cinematic Universe Characters New ‘Ant-Man’ Photos; Movie May Include More Marvel Cinematic Universe Characters Over 30 New 'Jurassic World' Photos, Plus 2 New Clips & Lots Of New TV Spots Over 30 New 'Jurassic World' Photos, Plus 2 New Clips & Lots Of New TV Spots Matt Damon Goes Interstellar Again In New Pics From Ridley Scott's 'The Martian' Matt Damon Goes Interstellar Again In New Pics From Ridley Scott's 'The Martian' First Look: Matt Damon As An Astronaut In Ridley Scott’s ‘The Martian’ First Look: Matt Damon As An Astronaut In Ridley Scott’s ‘The Martian’ Cannes Review: Justin Kurzel's 'Macbeth' Starring Michael Fassbender & Marion Cotillard Cannes Review: Justin Kurzel's 'Macbeth' Starring Michael Fassbender & Marion Cotillard Watch: Incredible Vintage Footage Of Audience Reactions To 'The Exorcist' In 1973 Watch: Incredible Vintage Footage Of Audience Reactions To 'The Exorcist' In 1973 Cannes Review: Gaspar Noé's Hardcore And Softhearted 'Love' Cannes Review: Gaspar Noé's Hardcore And Softhearted 'Love' Here's The Character Backstory For Doof aka Guitar Flamethrower Dude In 'Mad Max: Fury Road' Here's The Character Backstory For Doof aka Guitar Flamethrower Dude In 'Mad Max: Fury Road' Cannes Review: Hou Hsiao-Hsien's 'The Assassin' Is An Epic Visual Poem Cannes Review: Hou Hsiao-Hsien's 'The Assassin' Is An Epic Visual Poem The 10 Most Controversial Cannes Films Ever The 10 Most Controversial Cannes Films Ever Roger Deakins To Shoot Denis Villeneuve's 'Blade Runner' Sequel Roger Deakins To Shoot Denis Villeneuve's 'Blade Runner' Sequel More NSFW Posters For Gaspar Noe's 3D 'Love' Plus The Official Director's Statement More NSFW Posters For Gaspar Noe's 3D 'Love' Plus The Official Director's Statement Cannes: Watch A Three Way Makeout In The First Clip From Gaspar Noe’s 3D ‘Love’ Plus New NSFW Image Cannes: Watch A Three Way Makeout In The First Clip From Gaspar Noe’s 3D ‘Love’ Plus New NSFW Image Simon Pegg Worries That Adults Obsessed With Comics & Sci-Fi Have Become "Infantilized By Our Own Taste" Simon Pegg Worries That Adults Obsessed With Comics & Sci-Fi Have Become "Infantilized By Our Own Taste" George Miller Says 'Interstellar' Came Close To What His Version Of 'Contact' Would've Been Like George Miller Says 'Interstellar' Came Close To What His Version Of 'Contact' Would've Been Like New NSFW, Extremely Graphic, Adults-Only Poster For Gaspar Noe's 'Love' New NSFW, Extremely Graphic, Adults-Only Poster For Gaspar Noe's 'Love' The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season 10 Movies Booed At Cannes 10 Movies Booed At Cannes All The Songs In 'Pitch Perfect' Including La Roux, David Guetta, Azealia Banks, Nicki Minaj & More All The Songs In 'Pitch Perfect' Including La Roux, David Guetta, Azealia Banks, Nicki Minaj & More

Review: B-Movie Thrills Abound In 'The Thieves'

The Playlist By Gabe Toro | The Playlist October 12, 2012 at 8:59AM

There’s not a single moment of Choi Dong-hoon’s “The Thieves” that stays still. Endlessly busy despite a robust 136-minute runtime, Korea’s highest grossing film in history should be more than familiar to western audiences. It’s a heist picture, one with a wide ensemble of moving parts which compliment each other as each heist is carried out with point men, lookouts, and movie-world gizmos, and like even the thinnest of these pictures, “The Thieves” is less interested in the characters than it is the elaborate stunts and gimmicks.
2
The Thieves

There’s not a single moment of Choi Dong-hoon’s “The Thieves” that stays still. Endlessly busy despite a robust 136-minute runtime, Korea’s highest grossing film in history should be more than familiar to western audiences. It’s a heist picture, one with a wide ensemble of moving parts which compliment each other as each heist is carried out with point men, lookouts, and movie-world gizmos, and like even the thinnest of these pictures, “The Thieves” is less interested in the characters than it is the elaborate stunts and gimmicks.

The film follows a group of criminals who regularly boost artifacts from the rich, and the opening is a standout. A beautiful young woman (Gianna Jun) introduces her mother (Kim Hae-suk) to her boyfriend of five months, but when they leave the room, the daughter strips down to a bodysuit and reveals herself as a building-hopping daredevil. As she ziplines from building to building, a breathtaking stunt, her fake mother proceeds to trouble this would-be gentleman with nosy questions, the better to make him squirm and distract him from the job. Executed nearly to perfection, all parties eventually scramble to get away with a major reward right before the opening credits. Like this heist, the film is similarly low-frills.

The Thieves

The main gig that gets their attention is the $20 million Tear of the Sun, locked in a safe under heavy protection and located in -- where else? -- a casino. But the size of the job gets the attention of the crew’s former partner Macao Park (Kim Yun-seok), who insists on the involvement of his own shady team from China. Naturally, allegiances are frayed, particularly with the arrival of an old hand played by Hong Kong legend Simon Yam, and in ways you may or may not necessarily expect, this mutates from a heist picture into a revenge film.

Structurally, the picture becomes less like “The Italian Job” and more like “Takers,” though it’s refreshing to see this action shot with the beautiful clarity from bigger budgeted Asian filmmakers, where a premium is placed on long, carefully choreographed takes of aggressive action. While the story takes a turn for the dark, Choi Dong-Hoon keeps the action light and exciting, and a finale that involves various all-terrain chases is a delight for how quickly it shifts gears and provides a variety of angles and beats.

The Thieves

The cast also proves to be light on its feet, with the actors given the freedom to play sequences loose and improvisational. Much is done not so much with dialogue as it is with subtle gestures and greetings shared by a crew that, realistically, would have developed a mild shorthand from such a working relationship. A highlight is the interplay between that “mother” and “daughter” from the first scene, with Kim Hae-suk a grumbling alcoholic and a master of disguise, and the stunning Gianna Jun as a goofy, bitchy little princess who has never met a putdown she couldn’t use on everyone. Because it’s a heist film, and these sorts of aesthetics matter, she also looks phenomenal in an evening dress.

It’s with this tone that the film fails to convince as far as half-remembered, and ludicrously heated love affairs. There are so many characters to follow, and the main cast is such a treat, that by the time the peripheral marks are made to look like fools, you’ve begun to question the emotional reality of the film. It’s unfortunate -- “The Thieves” otherwise has a crackerjack b-movie pace, and a satisfying multi-tiered ending that wraps up all loose ends with the nefarious twists native to the genre. You may have seen it all before, but there’s a lot of “it all” to parse through in this effervescent heist actioner, a pleasurable romp with a savvy b-movie intelligence. [B]

This article is related to: Review


The Playlist

The obsessives' guide to contemporary cinema via film discussion, news, reviews, features, nostalgia, movie music, soundtracks, DVDs and more.


E-Mail Updates