Army of Thieves is the Prequel to Zack Snyder’s Army of the Dead. Only this universe building story was not helmed by Mister Snyder but by director and star Matthias Schweighöfer.
Netflix has placed a lot of trust in its directors. Allowing them more freedom and creative control to tell the stories as they have envisioned. Suffice to say that Netflix now holds the title as a Studio for Directors, a title that WB once carried. Like others, Zack Snyder has opted to forgo his partnership with WB and has landed a deal with Netflix. First up in this multiple movie deal was Army of the Dead. Next up in his ArmyVerse is Army of Thieves, a prequel to the aforementioned movie. Does this story add to the Universe Snyder is trying to build or does it feel out of place?
Army of Thieves follows the origin story of the character Dieter Ludiwig. Deiter, who was first established in Army of the Dead, was immediately a fan favorite as his character was seen as more of a comedic relief. Surprisingly, it was this character that was chosen to explore more of his back story out of a handful of others equally deserving such. Army of Thieves follows Sebastian Schlencht-Wöhnert ( who will later change his name to Ludwig Dieter based on a superhero name he gave himself in a comic he wrote as a child) searching for a life of recognition and worth. He does what most modern humans do for validity, launches a YouTube page. Sadly we see that though he is well versed in safes and their origins, this so-called master safe cracker has 0 views and likes. Luckily fortune is upon him and on his single view he is offered a chance, via a comment, to showcase his skills. After doing such, Dieter is recruited to join a rag band group of criminals to help them crack 3 out of 4 unbreakable safes within the world. Should be noted that the 4th safe is the objective in Army of the Dead.
The film progresses as your typical heist movie. You meet the stereotypical characters; Brad Cage the Action Hero, Korina the computer hacker, Rolf the getaway driver and the leader Gwendolen a master thief. From montages, to quick cuts of how the plan will masterfully work out, ala Oceans 11, Army of Thieves is a heist movie through and through. However, director and star Matthias Schweighöfer, was able to manage to inject an element that is rarely found within this stylized genre, a heart. Silly as it may sound, the majority of these heist movies are all about the process and how the plan proceeds yet rarely do we focus on the character. By doing this the stakes, while may be high, can feel low because we do not care what happens to people. This movie realized that and corrected the mistake. While yes the blueprint of a heist movie is very clearly seen throughout , Matthias Schweighöfer was able to focus his story on Dieter's point of view enough so that we have empathy for this character. We relate to his loneliness and desire to be accepted. We fell his pain when he realizes that he is considered unimportant. We hurt when we consider that this dorky smart person could be anyone of us looking to feel worthwhile in a life full of monotony. By injecting this heart we begin to root for Dieter, wanting him to succeed, not to get the money, or get the girl but to feel like he belongs within this world.
Overall Army of Thieves is a great addition to Zach Synder’s universe on Netflix. Cinematography was beautiful, Hans Zimmer delivered a subtle yet fun score and there is just enough world building to help you remember where this story takes place yet gives enough distance to let the movie stand on its own two feet. Best part of the movie is what was stated earlier the character development for a character I overlooked in the Army of the Dead. Worst part are some of the overused heist tropes, but that is hard to fault as the movie is stylized. Overall it is a solid movie and does what few prequels can do, make its predecessor better. Ill Be Back.(4/5)