Set several years before the events of Zack Snyder’s zombie horror hit Army of the Dead, Army of Thieves introduces us to a slightly younger and less zombie-weary version of safecracker Ludwig Dieter (Matthias Schweighöfer, who also directs the movie).
Bored of his repetitive and humdrum life and desperate to make better use of his safecracking skills, Ludwig spends his time making YouTube videos that are watched by almost nobody.
One day, he ends up being invited to an underground safecracking contest and he is lured into joining a crew of thieves who want to break into three of the Ring Cycle safes, which are scattered across Europe.
Forming a bond with jewel thief Gwendoline (Game of Thrones star Nathalie Emmanuel), Ludwig is soon putting his skills to good use as the gang try to get into the seemingly impossible-to-crack safes – while the zombie outbreak looms in the background.
With the movie about to drop on Netflix, critics have begun to cast their verdicts on the film following first-look screenings and the prequel’s Rotten Tomatoes score so far stands at a reasonably respectable 73%.
Plenty of critics have praised the movie, with the film being described as “fun”, “zippy” and “sparky”. Read on to find out the first reactions to the movie:
“The impending apocalypse gets back-burned early on, but that storytelling misstep is forgivable enough when there’s plenty of other fun elements in play. Happily, that’s what Snyder and Hatten’s script provides. There’s plenty of exposition, but the filmmaker employs a splashy, self-reflexive style that leans hard into the ‘it’s a movie!’ of it all…
“Unique, clever heists on a fast rotation, big twists, and major revelations, and some genuinely accomplished chase scenes (one that sees Schweighöfer evading the police on a bicycle is silly, serious, special, and fun – the film’s best qualities.)”
“There’s a pleasurably zippy pace to the storytelling, with editor Alexander Berner employing lots of wipes, smash cuts, screen graphics and Snyder-esque slow and fast motion to shake up the rhythm…
“This is a handsome film, and although the script isn’t completely airtight and some of the comedy is a tad broad, its sparky sense of fun keeps things ticking along until a coda that connects the story directly to Army of the Dead. Even if this prequel is tonally quite different and abandons the gore, fans of the first film should find it a diverting addition.”
“Army of Thieves is one of those bombastically blithe and fanciful Netflix action movies, in this case with a romantic heart. There are no zombies in it, unless you count the ones that pop up in a couple of dream sequences. But the movie points its way to the zombie apocalypse in Vegas, and to the temptation that awaits there: the Götterdämmerung, the fourth and final Ring Cycle safe. If you saw Army of the Dead, you know what happens next. But compared to that movie, this one feels like a Batman prequel devoted entirely to Robin.”
“There’s plenty of room for character and world building, but none of it gets in the way of Army of Thieves acting as an insanely entertaining stand-alone. With the formation of a franchise always being a touchy matter, any decision to expand a story can be a blessing or a curse. In this case, Army of Thieves absolutely breaks the bank with charm and style, much like any professional thief would do on their best assignment … this movie isn’t merely interested in making off with a score; it’s all about having fun and proving itself because it can.”
However, not all of the movie’s reviews were quite so glowing, with some critics questioning who the film is aimed at:
“It’s hard to discern who exactly a movie like Army of Thieves is aimed at. It’s not enough of a zombie movie to satisfy that audience, and not enough of a heist movie for that audience. Instead, it’s a strange hybrid of a thing that seems to feel the mythology Army of the Dead established only five months ago is so substantial and/or iconic as to require significant excavation. And it’s just… not.
“As a piece of disposable entertainment it did the trick just fine, but holding aloft an array of prequels and sequels may be more than this army can muster.”
“There’s never a moment in Army of Thieves that illustrates why this movie had to happen, especially not when the characters have to either show what makes them unique or talk about their generic behaviour. There’s some vague talk about how everybody in the movie, both protagonist and antagonists, are role-playing, though nobody’s motives are clear or well-developed enough to make them sympathetic.”
“If you squint hard and focus most of your mental energy on folding your laundry, yeah, Army of Thieves is kinda cool. But it’s also kinda bland, kinda formulaic, and kinda sad. If this is the sort of instantly franchisable content that the streaming giant thinks its audiences want or need, then we’re truly doomed.”
Army of the Dead is available to watch on Netflix now. Army of Thieves will be available to watch from Friday, October 29, on Netflix.
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Army of the Dead prequel movie gets mixed reviews