A bullet-riddled yarn of rule-bending cops

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DEN OF THIEVES (15)

According to the opening sequence of writer-director Christian Gudegast’s retread of the superior 1995 thriller Heat, Los Angeles is the bank theft capital of the world, notching up a robbery every 48 minutes.

It takes considerably longer than 96 minutes to carry out the two explosive heists that bookend Den Of Thieves, a bullet-riddled yarn of rule-bending cops and taunting criminals that lacks the lip-smacking promise of Robert De Niro and Al Pacino’s first shared screen time. Instead, Gudegast’s picture plays out its bruising battle of criminal enterprise versus rough justice using the permanent glower of Canadian actor Pablo Schreiber and the hulking physicality of Paisley-born action man Gerard Butler.

Sadly, the latter can’t maintain a firm grasp on his American accent and unexpectedly gifts his corrupt Los Angeles sheriff a fleeting Scottish burr.

None of the men on screen, including those brandishing police badges, play by the rules.

ROMAN J ISRAEL, ESQ (12A)

In 2014, screenwriter Dan Gilroy made an impressive directorial debut with the incendiary thriller Nightcrawler, which journeyed inside the twisted mind of an amoral cameraman, who sells footage of fatal traffic accidents to news stations.

In Roman J Israel, Esq, the gifted writer-director conjures another conflicted and socially awkward (anti)hero, who cheats the system with tragic repercussions for the people around him.

Oscar-nominated performance from Denzel Washington as the eponymous legal savant, who conceals his genius behind a shambolic appearance – oversized and ill-fitting clothes, large spectacles and an unruly Afro – and a complete lack of social niceties.