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Gerard Butler stars in the clever crime noir 'Den of Thieves'

Gerard Butler stars in the clever crime noir 'Den of Thieves'

Cops and robbers, robbers and cops. It's a classic genre, from children's games to cinema, and it's the spine of Christian Gudegast's directorial debut, the L.A. crime noir flick “Den of Thieves,” in which “cops and robbers” is writ so large it nearly becomes abstract.

It's a film that wears its inspirations openly, with a whole lot of “Training Day,” “Rampart,” “The Usual Suspects” and “Inside Man” in the mix. With excellent cinematic craftsmanship and some clever twists, “Den of Thieves” nearly places itself within that canon, even when it's too enamored of its own trickiness.

Gudegast does pull off the (nearly) impossible — making a hefty two-hour, 20-minute heist film...

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