Because Den Of Thieves is a crime heist thriller set in Los Angeles, it immediately is going to be compared to other films of such ilk, some of which are peerless. Let’s not forget that Michael Mann with Heat, William Friedkin with To Live And Die In L.A., and David Ayer with End Of Watch are just three examples of directors who have excelled with L.A.-based crime films. Can Den of Thieves keep up?
Last year, we had the opportunity to visit the set of Den Of Thieves, where its writer and director Christian Gudegast admitted that rather than being intimidated by these films, he has drawn inspiration from them. In fact, Gudegast has especially used Heat as a jumping off point for Den Of Thieves, but insists his film goes even further. When we asked which films were a reference point for Den Of Thieves Gudegast responded:
Michael Mann is a big influence on me. He’s a great filmmaker. The thing with Heat, I love Heat, Heat is an incredible film, but the world of Heat doesn’t exist. It’s very stylized. This is the real world of Heat.
Gudegast then went on to list several other key films and filmmakers that have influenced the style, tone, and action in Den Of Thieves.
Quentin Tarantino to a degree, because he is from Redondo Beach. Like Jackie Brown. I could go on forever. French Connection. To Live and Die In LA.
Christian Gudegast was quick to explain how Den Of Thieves will differ to other Los Angeles based crime films, though.
The gang experience has been covered with American Me and even End Of Watch, and even Training Day. The black experience has been covered with Boyz n The Hood, Menace To Society, Straight Outta Compton. But that part of the world where [there is a] mix of everything has not been covered accurately. That’s what we’re going to do here.
Later on in the day we also had the chance to speak to Den of Thieves star Gerard Butler, and he listed some more films that he thinks the film took inspiration from. The Scot also explained why Gene Hackman was such a big influence on his character Big Nick, too.
A big one is Heat in a way. The Town, more for how organic and pulled down it is. For me, the biggest one is The French Connection. Although, Dog Day Afternoon is another film. Dog Day Afternoon and Gene Hackman in French Connection. That wildness. That unpredictability. There’s nobody like Gene Hackman. I’ll tell you. In every movie, you’re thinking, ‘How can you infuse that much personality, that much danger, and entertainment, in every character that he portrays?’ French Connection for the grittiness. Bit of Usual Suspects thrown in there, too. There’s a lot of nice reference points to other different movies.
You can try to spot just how much Den Of Thieves has been inspired by the above by watching its trailer below.