Review by Sean Boelman
While straight-to-VOD action movies tend to be extremely hit-or-miss, the heist subgenre is one of the more consistent in terms of quality. Unfortunately, Righteous Thieves is one of the most uninspired heist movies in a long time, a film devoid of any personality, excitement, or character development in a way that makes it an utter waste of time for everyone involved.
The movie follows a heist crew who is assembled to recover priceless artwork that had been stolen by the Nazis during World War II. Heist movies like this tend to deliver a solid amount of entertainment with very little effort required. However, there are some rare cases that have *such* little effort that they end up being nearly unwatchable.
The biggest question many viewers will have after watching this film is how they managed to make a movie about people doing a heist to recover stolen Nazi art feel this boring. No one would come into this movie expecting it to have a surprising story, but it should at least be slick and quick-paced, and the film instead feels like it is slowly marching to its death.
It's also frustrating to see a heist team full of characters that are this underdeveloped. Of course, the genre is known for having characters that are pretty dull and archetypal, but Righteous Thieves hardly even does that for their personalities. The characters we get are flatter than cardboard and can’t even make effective wisecracks.
The biggest names in the cast are Cam Gigandet, Jaina Lee Ortiz, and Lisa Vidal, and all three of them are phoning in their performances. It feels like the type of work that they likely took purely out of the need to get a paycheck. The less experienced actors, namely Carlos Mirnada, put in more of an effort but aren’t particularly impressive either.
Worse yet is that the movie fails to give us a particularly memorable villain. The mark of the crew is just another neo-Nazi. Of course, the audience is rooting for the heist team to triumph and for the Nazi baddie to get what he deserves. However, Brian Cousins plays him so generically that it’s hard to feel intimidated by them
However, perhaps the most unforgivable sin of the film is that it is entirely lacking in style. For the most part, heist movies tend to be rather formulaic from a writing standpoint — it’s the stylistic flourishes that make each film in the genre unique. Anthony Nardolillo’s style is not just uninspired, but borderline incompetent, with cinematography and soundtrack choices that are downright unpleasant.
Righteous Thieves doesn’t even manage to do the bare minimum required to provide an entertaining heist thriller. It’s hard to ruin this genre, because it doesn’t take a lot to be at least diverting, but Nardolillo and co. manage to fumble it so massively that it’s not worth your time.
Righteous Thieves hits theaters and VOD on March 10.