Safe Space: “Army of Thieves”, a relatively airy and aggressively silly prequel to “Army of the Dead”

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Matthias Schweighfer, left, and Nathalie Emmanuel in “Army of Thieves”. (Stanislav Honzik / Netflix)

The first rule of the Safecracking Club:

1. Ah, go ahead and talk about the Safecracking Club.

The second rule of the Safecracking Club:

2. See above. Might as well talk about it because it’s pretty ridiculous and I don’t think the cops will care.

One of my favorite scenes in “Army of Thieves”, a relatively airy and light, and aggressively silly standalone prequel to “Army of the Dead”, comes at the start of the film when the low-level German bureaucrat, term nerd and amateur Safecracking geek Ludwig Dieter (Matthias Schweighofer) is invited to participate in a mysterious underground safecracking tournament. A crowd of rabid fans cheer wildly – we assume they’ve placed bets on the action – and Dieter finds himself running to open a series of increasingly complex vaults against elegantly-equipped and light-hearted competitors. menacing who look like magician candidates on “Germany’s Got Talent.” “When Dieter wins the final round, the crowd goes wild!

Think about it for a patient second reader. They monitor individuals who try to OPEN SAFEs. In comparison, TV pickleball, cornhole, and ax throwing would be positively fascinating.

Yet thanks to Schweighofer’s sleek staging influenced by “Italian Job”, a sense of his own ridiculous nature and fabulous performances from the charming and beautiful supporting cast, “Army of Thieves” is the very definition of a Entertaining Netflix. confection. While it features safecracking Dieter, who featured prominently in Zach Snyder’s ‘Army of the Dead’ in Las Vegas, and there are some fun, albeit strained, ties to this zombie apocalypse blockbuster, this history is only tangentially linked to the world of the Undead. It takes place about six years before the events of the “Army of the Dead”, with the zombie epidemic that has just ignited in the United States – which only briefly interests the inhabitants of Western Europe, who look up from time to time and see it on TV.

Schweighofer goes all-in with an exaggerated, mostly endearing, sometimes obnoxious performance as a fastidious, high-pitched, bordering on cowardly but generous Dieter who leads an anonymous and rather sad life in Potsdam, Germany – toil at a heartbreaking job, seemingly without friends or family, and spending her free time posting YouTube videos to safecracking that often garner 0 views.

Ruby O Fee, left, and Nathalie Emmanuel in “Army of Thieves”. (Stanislav Honzik / Netflix)

Ah, but one of those videos catches the attention of Gwendoline (Nathalie Emmanuel from “Game of Thrones”), a skilled pickpocket and criminal mastermind who leads an army of, well, thieves that includes escapade expert Rolph. (Guz Khan), the brilliant hacker Korina (Ruby O. Fee) and a granite-jawed action hero (Stuart Martin) who looks like the first runner-up in a Hugh Jackman lookalike contest and gave himself Brad Cage’s movie brand name because he was bullied as a boy and inspired by action stars like Brad Pitt and Nicolas Cage to build muscle and get tough. Brad Cage, ladies and gentlemen!

Gwendoline enlists the avid Dieter to join the gang as they embark on a series of nearly impossible heists, all involving the legendary works of German locksmith Hans Wagner, who in his later years built four safes, named for each opera by Richard Wagner ringing cycle. (That would be “Das Rheingold,” “Die Walküre,” “Siegfried” and “Götterdämmerung” or “Twilight of the Gods,” for those of you playing at home.)

At this point, “Army of Thieves” becomes a three-part heist film, with the usual feuds and ties between gang members, a love triangle involving Dieter, the conflict Gwendoline, and brooding Brad Cage – and the obligatory “Ocean’s 11 inch scenes of planning and executing heists. These culminate with Dieter flexing his hands and showing off a bit before getting down to business, at which point we see some cool CGI shots of gears going on. spin and click in place. Meanwhile, Jonathan Cohen provides comedic relief as the exasperated Delacroix, an Interpol official who is still only one step behind this damn army of thieves.

After some thrilling action sequences and an implausible final twist even for a breakout movie like this, “Army of Thieves” stays with Dieter beyond this adventure and you already know where he’s going next.

Welcome to Las Vegas, baby.


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