Army of Thieves

Having caught up on the latest episode of Succession, I stumble upon Army of Thieves in Netflix’s top lineup.

What comes next is an addictive, eye-catching journey of praise and appreciation, along with a second screen experience. That’s only because I am beside myself with the amazing cinematography opening up on screen, and the brilliant characters I haven’t seen before. I have to research all of them!

Army of Thieves is directed by and stars Matthias Schweighöfer. Matthias plays Ludwig Dieter, a passionate safe cracker who is recruited by a mysterious woman (Nathalie Emmanuel) to join a team in a series of elaborate safe-cracking robberies.

The team is a vibrant, masterfully nuanced group of eccentric characters, each with a unique skill set. Reminiscent of other strategic safe-busting movies, the team needs each member to do what they’re good at. Albeit stereotypical, this crew compels me. Dieter is my favorite. Then there is the resident hacker, Korina Dominguez (Ruby O. Fee), who adorably transforms into covert characters. Guz Kahn as Rolf breaks in with some one-liners for laughs. Brad thinks he’s the leader, which is also funny.

I’m immediately in love with the detailed camera work and lighting. The framing in each shot is spectacular, and the details down to the lines on their faces leave me wanting more. I open back up my laptop, second screening the actors, the director, the settings. Finding out that my favorite – Dieter the passionate safe cracker is also the director – Yes, mate!! This thrills me as I’ve never heard of him before. In fact, every actor is new to me with the exception of Emmanuel (Gwendoline) who I remember from Game of Thrones.

The ending falls short of satisfying, leaving me wanting more as the characters part ways. Apparently this is intentional.

Army of the Dead

So I find out Army of Thieves is actually a prequel to Army of the Dead. I see it’s up next in our recommendations. Directed by Zach Snyder. Oh, and he is a writer on Army of Thieves. So I start watching, ready to find out what happened with my newly discovered characters! Now right about here is where everything gets messed up for me.

I’ve never been more frustrated trying to figure out the connection between two movies. Army of the Dead has so many characters that lack any development or depth and our lead from the “Thieves” film is nearly a bystander. The violence and action are gratuitous and not funny. And so many zombies.

As this traipses on, we’re dealing with a near “Portrait Mode” cinematography that is strikingly distracting. Seemingly focused on nothing, there’s a constant attempt to enforce action in every scene, with diluted characters loosely assembled to crack the last, biggest safe located in Zombie-overrun Las Vegas. Yes, you’re caught up.

I’m wondering where our boy Dieter is. And what happened to the rest of the crew? He appears briefly, as if an addendum to the next heist. His new team gifts him the power to kill zombies, neglecting his relationship with his historic quest to conquer the Vagner safes. Oh they also forget all about the girl, if we’re watching both movies. Apparently he did too. This isn’t even shot on the same camera. And the storyline with the zombies having like a queen with a baby and differently named zombie stages? And they throw in some WMD Zombies for no reason. It’s a clusterf*ck.

Bring Back Dieter

If someone can figure out a way to keep our boy in the director’s chair to create an actual sequel with the same well-developed characters, I’m all in.

This segue into Violence-Vegas is better left out on its own. We do get an epic semi-enjoyable Dave Bautista casino shoot-out, but we’re quickly reminded of the ridiculous plot with a Culture Club needle drop. And again, where’s our boy Dieter? Zack Snyder has done some things. I’m sure he’s laughing at the disruptiveness of this film duo, it seems to be his niche.

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