By: Amanda Guarragi
Don’t worry; no zombies were harmed in the making of this prequel. We all loved Ludwig Dieter (Matthias Schweighöfer) in Army of the Dead, but we never really expected a prequel with his character. Zack Snyder’s film was a fun zombie flick and we were all happy to see him go back to his roots. However, Army of Thieves was lacking the Snyder touch and it felt completely different in tone. This one is more of a heist film to highlight Dieter’s expertise in safecracking and it does work for the most part. The issue is that the pacing was a bit slow for my liking in between the heists and the secondary characters apart from Gwendoline (Nathalie Emmanuel) were forgettable.
This prequel comes before the zombie apocalypse, so we see the early stages of what transpires in Las Vegas. Our favourite German safecracker, Dieter leads a group of aspiring thieves on a top-secret heist, attempting to crack as many safe’s as he can. The most impressive thing that Matthias Schweighöfer did as a director was completely understand Dieter’s character and make the entire atmosphere of the film feel like him. From the music choices, to the fourth wall breaks, and the actual safe cracking, it was all about Dieter. For a prequel that is solely character based, the essence of Dieter was evident and worked for what the film was.
For the most part, it is a standard heist film with some hints to zombies attacking them in the near future. But that is about the only link to Army of the Dead. The Snyder-isms are definitely missed but Schweighöfer’s magic behind the camera came with the attention to the safecracking. He really went into the gears of the safe and every single aspect that goes into opening it. The special effects that were used to show the dimensions of the safe and the actual locks were a very nice touch. There are some strong choices made, some solid action sequences but it’s more style over substance. Which is also a good thing for Schweighöfer to show off his directing chops.
Army of Thieves is a fun prequel for Army of the Dead and it is because of Schweighöfer. If it weren’t for his comedic timing and absolutely brilliant physical comedy, this wouldn’t have worked. He is talented, when working with the right material but he did get the chance to show it off. Dieter is a wonderful character and the movie will make you love him even more. Really glad that Netflix decided to actually go forward with the Snyder, zombie-verse because we can get some fun one-offs like this. If you just want to watch some good old safecracking and some funny physical comedy, then this is a solid watch this weekend.