A stellar cast makes The King of Thieves by far the best and most poignant cinema version of the Hatton Garden heist

The Hatton Garden heist in 2015 has already been repeatedly dramatized, but this is by far the best, and most poignant, with a stellar cast of British heavyweight actors who, much like the characters they play, are having one last hurrah robbing a bank, running from the law, and being thoroughly nasty to each other. King of Thieves is neither a thrilling heist movie, or a jolly Ealing-style romp, but rather an affecting character study of old blokes looking for a purpose.

Michael Caine and his starry supporting cast must have had a marvellous time unshackled from the charming old men roles they have been consigned to of late. Jim Broadbent is particularly unpleasant, while Tom Courtenay is, when not falling asleep on the job, the most unctuous of weasels. All of them commit to an authentic telling of an unglamorous, bungled smash and grab that was doomed from the start.

James Marsh’s direction is workmanlike, rather than showy, but that’s what needed in a film about the banality of crime. Refreshingly unsentimental, its abiding message is that brutish, stupid men turn into brutish, stupid old men, not delightful old codgers. We would do well to remember that.

By David Vass