The formula? Get seven well known and loved actors: Michael Caine, Jim Broadbent, Ray Winstone, Michael Gambon, Tom Courtenay, Paul Whitehouse and Charlie Cox. Next, write a jewelry heist script (it helps if it's based on a true story). Thirdly, hire an excellent director, in this case James Marsh. Mix the ingredients, stir and wait for the movie magic to rise.
Sadly this charming crime caper never hits its stride or delivers on the promise of the story and its wonderful cast. The story is that of the Hatten Gardens robbery which took place over Easter weekend in 2015. We all know the end. Having pulled off the robbery, the criminals were all caught and convicted apart from one. AS with all films where the audience knows the ending, the film has to make up for this in other ways to firstly, get bums on seats in cinemas and then hold their attention. By lining up such a wonderful cast, both objectives should be fulfilled.
The first two Acts are excellent as our troupe plan and execute the heist including bungling different aspects of it. There is humour a-plenty and it's a joy as we watch the discuss hip-replacements and other aging ailments including complaints about the internet. The third Act descends into chaos as the characters begin to turn on each other in a way that was not believable of fully fleshed-out. The third Act is the weakest and it is this that leaves the viewer with a sense of, to use the vernacular...m'eh.
All the characters are well drawn and suited to their casting. Caine is suave and sophisticated as the king-pin. Courtenay is good as the bumbling member who falls asleep at the wrong moment. Winstone always makes a good gangster. Gambon is wasted as a buffoon, Billy the Fish who is charged with fencing the goods. Whitehouse is under-used. Broadbent is the one who gets to stretch here. We are used to seeing him as the avuncular character - Brigid Jones' Dad. Here he gets to be nasty and it's a surprise. Charlie Cox (fresh from Marvel's Daredevil on Netflix) is a good foil for the older characters.
All in all, King of Thieves was a disappointment. It had moments of charm and laugh out loud humour but I expected more from the ingredients assembled.