The Hatton Garden Job, 2017.
Directed by Ronnie Thompson
Starring Matthew Goode, Larry Lamb, Phil Daniels, David Calder, Joely Richardson, and Stephen Moyer.
Over the Easter weekend in 2015, a small team of experienced burglars broke into the basement vaults at The Hatton Garden Safe Deposit Company and stole millions of pounds in gold, cash and jewellery. Based on true events.
Since a group of what the media gleefully described as “diamond geezers” raided the contents of up to 70 safety deposit boxes at The Hatton Garden Safe Deposit Company over Easter 2015, the rush has been on to bring one of the most audacious crimes in British history to the big screen. The first attempt, Hatton Garden The Heist, sank without trace last year. Signature Entertainment no doubt had a twinkle in its corporate eye when it decided to release the second one, Ronnie Thompson’s The Hatton Garden Job, this Easter weekend.
The events are well-known enough. How four members of the gang had all been criminals for years and were significantly older than anybody would have expected. How they carried out the robbery without anybody noticing – not even the security guard who turned up on the doorstep to check. And how they drilled through the concrete wall to get to the safety deposit boxes, relieving them of their contents – at least £14 million worth.
It’s a film maker’s dream, tailor-made for the type of crime movie that Brits both love and do well, or something full of loveable rogues in the style of an Ealing comedy. The ingredients are all there. A daring heist, one that’s genius in its simplicity, interesting characters who are not what you expect – including a nameless mystery man – and the inevitable question as to whether they get caught or not. The answer to that, and the fate of at least some of the loot, is well documented, so what has Thompson done to give us something more than just another re-hash of a famous story?
The answer is not much. When the narrative is this well-known, and this recent, it’s a big ask to include anything in the way of suspense. It can be done, but he doesn’t try. Instead, the focus is on the planning and execution of the robbery and that’s your lot. He couldn’t be less interested in the aftermath, summing it up with a few scenes and some lines on the screen. All of which makes for a film that feels rushed and an audience that feels frustrated.
But Thompson drops an even bigger clanger when it comes to the four diamond geezers themselves. Instead of developing them and giving actors of the calibre of Larry Lamb, Phil Daniels and David Calder something to get their teeth into, all that potential goes untapped and the characters are pitifully under-developed. A quick taste of their backgrounds is all we get, even though it’s obvious that at least some of them had fascinating back-stories, ones which would have given the film some much-needed richness and colour. It all goes begging …..
The fifth member of the gang is deliberately mysterious. He never has a name on-screen and on the cast list he’s shown as XXX. Played by Matthew Goode (his second film this week, alongside The Sense Of An Ending), he also provides the film’s narration to help move things along. Except that Thompson insists on using freeze frame as a technique for the voiceover to make a point. The length of time between the freeze and the narration means the audience thinks there’s a technical hitch – at least for the first couple of times. After that, it just becomes an irritant.
The best thing that can be said about The Hatton Garden Job is that it’s adequate. It’s robbed us of the movie it could have been, one full of character and, despite knowing the ending, suspense as well. The diamonds shown at the start sparkle very nicely thank you. The same can’t be said for the film.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★
Freda Cooper – Follow me on Twitter, check out my movie blog and listen to my podcast, Talking Pictures.