October 28, 2021
Zack Snyder’s surprisingly effective zombie caper Army of the Dead gets a zippy prequel that follows Matthias Schweighöfer’s unlikely safecracker
Army of Thieves review – fun Netflix prequel swaps horror for more heists
There was a surprising amount of fun to be had in this summer’s gory zombie romp Army of the Dead, a film that turned the not-hugely-enticing prospect of Zack Snyder working with Netflix into something strangely hard-to-deny. It was his most ebulliently entertaining offering for years, and rightly predicting its popularity (it quickly became one of the streamer’s most-watched films ever), Snyder started developing a prequel called Army of Thieves months before it had even landed.
The result is an unusual one, switching genre and director but maintaining the same rambunctious energy, a zippy adventure that pushes zombies to the background. While Army of the Dead was a horror movie with a heist, Army of Thieves is a heist movie without any horror, more formulaic and less memorable but still slickly effective, a strange next step for the Army franchise (a direct sequel and an anime prequel series are also on the way) that strangely works. Thieves follows Matthias Schweighöfer’s German safecracker Dieter before he ended up in Nevada, six years ago as the zombie outbreak began. We see it on TV screens and in dream sequences but never up-close, the characters amusingly unbothered by the impending apocalypse. Dieter is a safecracker only in theory, posting YouTube tutorials that nobody watches while going about his humdrum life as a lonely bank teller. But one day, he receives a mysterious message that leads him to Gwendoline (Game of Thrones alumna Nathalie Emmanuel), who enlists him as part of her crew of thieves (Guz Khan, Stuart Martin and Ruby O Fee) to crack the world’s most impossible safes.
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