Years before the events of 'Army of the Dead', safecracker Ludwig Dieter (Matthias Schweighöfer) is recruited by a woman (Nathalie Emmanuel) to help with a heist that involves a series of vaults that are considered legendary in the safecracking community...
Even though a huge splash was made over 'Army of the Dead' on account of it being Zack Snyder's first movie post-'Justice League', the same can't be really said for 'Army of Thieves'. Indeed, the most fascinating aspect of it was that A) it was in production so quickly, and B) that the safecracker character from 'Army of the Dead' was getting a spinoff movie. Yet, this is a Netflix movie and considering that it's often more about quantity than quality, we can't be that surprised about its existence.
Yet, even in that, 'Army of Thieves' is a largely unremarkable heist comedy movie. It's done with a workmanlike quality, building plot and characters with just enough for them to be markedly different and funny enough for them to get a rise out of the audience. Mathias Scheweighofer's character is very much the same as you'd recall from 'Army of the Dead' - he's high-strung, well-meaning, and he knows how to open safes with a deft spin of his wiry hands and his blonde hair pressed against the door. Nathalie Emmanuel plays the leather-jacket wearing heist leader who - wouldn't you know it - ends up having a bit of a relationship with the safecracker. Stuart Martin plays the heavy, Guz Khan plays the comic relief, and with all of them on screen, there's a reasonable sense of fun and action to it.
But even in that, safecracking isn't something that's all that exciting. You get the sense that the genesis of the movie was something that happened on the set of 'Army of the Dead' and was quickly spun into what it is now. The plot is threadbare at best, its connection to the original is minimal at best, and when you come right down to it, it's not terribly exciting either.
It's all so titled, so desperately on rails, and so mind-numbingly predictable and rote that you really do struggle to give the attention when it's this plain and unremarkable. Even Hans Zimmer's score proves annoying for its whistles, and it doesn't even have the added benefit of a horror flourish to it. Even the tagline isn't remotely inspired - 'More Safes, Less Zombies'. The reality is that there's only one - repeat, one - good movie about safecracking and that's Michael Mann's 'Thief'. What's more, the safecracking wasn't even the big thing in it. What 'Thief' did so well was that it made the meticulous planning and the dark thrill of prowling at night seem exciting. It also helped that James Caan was at his best, and Michael Mann was desperately eager to make a name for himself.
'Army of Thieves', on the other hand, is uninspired, unremarkable, and is likely to bother you on Netflix for a couple of days and be largely consigned to the waste-heap of other perfectly fine but utterly prosaic sequels and prequels in its library.