Army of Thieves (Crime, Comedy) (2021)
Director: Matthias Schweighöfer
Writer: Zack Snyder, Shay Hatten
Stars: Matthias Schweighöfer, Nathalie Emmanuel, Ruby O. Fee, Guz Khan
Living a rather monotonous life, Sebastian (Later known as Dieter in ‘’Army of the Dead’’) works as a bank teller in Potsdam. During his spare time, he enjoys making Youtube clips about safecracking despite not getting any views. But, everything changes unexpectedly as someone comments on one of his videos, inviting him to a secret underground safecracking competition.
Serving as a prequel to Zack Snyder’s ‘’Army of the Dead’’, this film takes a different direction. While set in the same universe as the previous film, it takes place in Europe. The outbreak has been contained to Las Vegas, and thus there are only a few mentions and references to zombies. Interestingly Matthias Schweighöfer takes the reins as the director using a co-written script by Shay Hatten and Zack Snyder himself, which explains both films being released in the same year.
As a heist-action-comedy, it very much stands out as a parody upon itself and films like it, which is the best part. It jokingly moves forward its classic-Hollywood plotline filled to the brim with clichés. There isn’t much intricacy to it all, yet purposefully to make it easily digestible as a whole. Predecessor ‘’Army of the Dead’’ also tried its hand at being comedy-forward but more so in a campy budget action capacity, primarily opting for more of an action-horror approach with cheesy drama to hold it all together.
If I’d had to choose a favourite amongst the two films released in this trilogy to be, it would most definitely be ‘’Army of Thieves’’ despite my enjoyment of the zombie sub-genre. What makes this prequel stand above Snyder’s original is how it seems to understand its subjects, and therefore its audience. Nothing looks out of place or forced despite its goofiness, and the fact that it is wholly watchable and enjoyable as a standalone film makes it so much better. Even lesser moments that are necessary but not the main focal point, such as the action sequences, work pretty well. Is it choreographically perfect, to no means. Yet still, it does what it needs to. Instead of trying to accomplish several different genre’s with all of them ending up mediocre due to their isolated quality, ‘’Army of Thieves’’ manages to merge everything together into a basic yet coherent story, a feast for fans of the goofy and absurd.
There are criticisms such as the typical Hollywood safecracking and the fact that, as mentioned, it is littered with cliché’s, but it’s meant to be that way as a comedy. Schweighöfer’s name already holds weight in Germany, and I’m glad to have him in English-spoken films at this point in his career. He and the other actors, such as Nathalie Emmanuel, make it such a delightful comedy, blasting its way past ‘’Army of the Dead’’ and other comedy films this year.
Steals away the zombies and replaces them with something that is so much better.