The Hatton Garden Job: 'large parts of this Guy Ritchie pastiche are, quite literally, just boring' - review

The Hatton Garden Job
The Hatton Garden Job

Dir: Ronnie Thompson; Starring: Matthew Goode, Larry Lamb, Phil Daniels, David Calder, Clive Russell, Joely Richardson. 15 cert, 91 mins.

The Italian, The Bank, The Nut, Steve: films named after jobs are a variable bunch. In British cinema at least, the word often betokens a sort of geezery semi-competence – a wham-bam, clock-off-at-five treatment of the subject at hand. So it is with Ronnie Thompson’s fictionalisation of a headline-grabbing burglary in 2015, in which over £14 million in cash and valuables was stolen from a vault in the belly of London’s diamond district. 

At the time the story seemed to catch the public’s fancy for three reasons: the audacity of the operation, the advanced years of the culprits (the seven-strong gang had a combined age of 448), and the apparently widely held view that it was ideal source material for a light-hearted British crime movie (“Nine ways the Hatton Garden heist is just like a Guy Ritchie film” was the title of an article published on the BBC’s website). 

The Hatton Garden Job
The Hatton Garden Job

While it’s not clear if "laboriously ape Ritchie’s 2000 ensemble caper Snatch at every opportunity" was part of the real-world gang’s original plan, it certainly seems to have been Thompson’s M.O. in piecing his own film together. From the unflattering freeze-frames and swaggering bass line of his title sequence to the non-diegetic pee-yows and ker-chings that appear on the soundtrack for comic effect, let’s just say there’s more being ripped off here than the Hatton Garden Safe Deposit Company.

Matthew Goode, aka Downton Abbey’s Henry Talbot, stars as the handler of the film’s quartet of pensionable hoodlums, who are selected for the heist because “an old-school get needs an old-school crew”. Pulling the strings is a Hungarian mob boss played by Joely Richardson, who flaunts a fantastically unconvincing eastern European accent and a hairstyle and wardrobe less suggestive of underworld glamour than a frazzled magician’s assistant: imagine Debbie McGee hooked up to a Van de Graaff generator. 

Joely Richardson
Joely Richardson: in The Hatton Garden Job imagine Debbie McGee hooked up to a Van de Graaff generator

This gangland politicking is of limited interest to the crew themselves, though, who are just keen to get their hands on all that Tom (foolery, jewellery) and thereby set themselves up for retirement. Larry Lamb, Phil Daniels, David Calder and Clive Russell play the codgers, an unappealing bunch who spend the start and the end of the film swatting around stale banter and much of the middle of it watching an industrial drill slowly gouge a hole in the wall of an underground strongroom. This is entirely, even aggressively un-cinematic, and after a while begins to feel like a bizarre, Brechtian joke at the audience’s expense: vast expanses of the film are, quite literally, just boring.

At no point is there a sense of the magnitude of the crime or the nerve of its perpetrators, let alone a reason to cheer them on. “This is mental!” marvels Russell as the team draw up their plans. “It’s monu-mental!” counters Daniels. Try rudimental.

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