Directed by: #BryanCWinn
Written by: Bryan C. Winn
A heist film where the characters have no honour in filmmaker Bryan C. Winn's indie film Thieves. An Ocean's Eleven style plot that unfolds across the City of Angels, in which gangsters, assassins, and cops converge to meet various sticky ends.
Dakota Kennedy plays Johnny, a career thief whose luck turns bad when he and his pregnant wife (Loren Livy) are captured by thugs after a job. She gets killed and he must make amends to the boss he has offended when he tried to steal from him. Johnny proposes a lucrative hit on a racecourse to repay, only to find plenty of hurdles to jump if he's going to survive.
Convoluted and familiar, Thieves is a film born out of numerous action movies from yesteryear. From the synth score to the underdeveloped characters, audiences know exactly what kind of movie this is from the get go. The only confusing choice was to have it in black and white, attempting a #filmnoir style on a cops and robbers smash-n-grab narrative. The result is more like CCTV footage, with raw visuals and even rawer audio.
The pacing is way too quick, in particular the skipping over of emotional investment for the audience. Johnny's wife gets killed fairly early in the movie but a few scenes later he is onto his next heist and bereft of any noticeable sadness. Likewise, the inclusion of so many characters and subplots feels too ambitious. Such as the bent cop (P.J. King) who owes money to a different #gangster (Victor Chen), or the array of goons and hit people who surround Johnny.
There were strengths to Thieves that show Winn as a capable if exacting director. A few cool cinematic techniques were used to spice up the visuals, such as a stimulating section of Johnny driving through the city, or plenty of drone shots of L.A. at night. He also borrowed the classic heist tactic of running through the job before the job happens with deft skill. There were also a few moments of decent comedy, such as a weapons guy making explosive devices whilst watching (and talking to) a movie.
Far from adventurous storytelling, or providing any relevant themes to a modern audience, Thieves is an indie film paying homage to other films of the crime genre. Whilst the #filmmaking and aesthetics appear bold and daring, they wind up only adding to the noise and chaos of Winn's breakneck paced plot, leaving the viewer's head spinning for all the wrong reasons.