Tright here was a stunning quantity of enjoyable available on this summer season’s gory zombie romp Military of the Lifeless, a movie that turned the not-hugely-enticing prospect of Zack Snyder working with Netflix into one thing surprisingly hard-to-deny. It was his most ebulliently entertaining providing for years, and rightly predicting its reputation (it shortly grew to become one of many streamer’s most-watched movies ever), Snyder began growing a prequel known as Military of Thieves months earlier than it had even landed.
The result’s an uncommon one, switching style and director however sustaining the identical rambunctious vitality, a zippy journey that pushes zombies to the background. Whereas Military of the Lifeless was a horror film with a heist, Military of Thieves is a heist film with none horror, extra formulaic and fewer memorable however nonetheless slickly efficient, a wierd subsequent step for the Military franchise (a direct sequel and an anime prequel collection are additionally on the way in which) that surprisingly works. Thieves follows Matthias Schweighöfer’s German safecracker Dieter earlier than he ended up in Nevada, six years in the past because the zombie outbreak started. We see it on TV screens and in dream sequences however by no means up-close, the characters amusingly unbothered by the upcoming apocalypse. Dieter is a safecracker solely in idea, posting YouTube tutorials that no one watches whereas going about his humdrum life as a lonely financial institution teller. However someday, he receives a mysterious message that leads him to Gwendoline (Sport of Thrones alumna Nathalie Emmanuel), who enlists him as a part of her crew of thieves (Guz Khan, Stuart Martin and Ruby O Payment) to crack the world’s most not possible safes.
There’s nothing markedly vital about universe expander Military of Thieves, area of interest fan service that provides backstory to a personality who we all know dies afterward, however Schweighöfer, additionally performing as director, retains his frothy caper afloat with a light-weight knockabout tone, by no means insisting the movie as something that it isn’t. The script, from the Military of the Lifeless co-writer Shay Hatten, is stitched collectively from the heist film playbook with no grand makes an attempt to reinvent the style, coasting on the straightforward pleasures of method however he joins the dots with nearly sufficient allure as we comply with the ragtag workforce from metropolis to metropolis (a Netflix movie with a number of places is to not be sniffed at) and secure to secure. What the movie does handle to deliver to the desk visually is a extra immersive illustration of what cracking a secure really entails, some nifty results taking us contained in the mechanics of the secure as Dieter works his magic. It’s a neat trick that provides vibrancy to an typically reasonably unengaging course of.
Schweighöfer’s goofy-but-goes-to-the-gym schtick is difficult to withstand, the type of heat, well-calibrated efficiency that Ryan Reynolds typically tries, and infrequently fails, to present, and he’s as assured behind the digicam as he’s in entrance, buoyed by a grand Hans Zimmer rating, a daring studio sizzle reel that ought to result in extra Hollywood work. Emmanuel, who confirmed romcom allure in 2019’s likable Four Weddings and a Funeral TV series, carries a few of that by way of right here for a candy, if a bit anemic, romance with Schweighöfer. It’s a bit overlong for a movie that ought to really feel breezy, at over two hours, with the final act a bit saggy because the inevitable double-crosses and “oh however that was actually what was occurring” reveals spill out (the narrative twists and turns should not fairly as whip-smart because the movie appears to assume they’re). However there’s an intriguingly doomed unhappiness that involves the foreground on the very finish, given the destiny of Dieter’s character (recalling the finale of Black Widow), and it ends the movie with a punch.
There’s an immense satisfaction to stress-free into an old school style movie that’s content material to hit easy, acquainted beats with finesse, no extra no much less (one thing that additionally makes the streamer’s new western The Harder They Fall a profitable watch), and the low stakes sturdiness of Military of Thieves marks it out as one in every of Netflix’s extra pleasant originals of late (it’s a heist film about heists not a heist film about, say, trauma). Because the platform’s never-ending stream of cheaply made TV movies continues, right here an necessary mixture has been cracked.