Based on Zack Synder’s characters from the Army of Dead, Army of Thieves is the 2021 Netflix film that lays the premise for the upcoming zombie apocalypse in the wake of an extravagant heist. This prequel is directed by Matthias Schweighöfer, who also reprises in his role from the original film, only with a different name. With a run time of two hours, the film focuses on Sebastian’s story and what happened to him before he became Ludwig in the Army of Dead. It also stars Nathalie Emmanuel as Gwendoline opposite him.
– Netflix’s Army of Thieves review contains mild spoilers –
Army of Thieves: A Quest
The film starts with Matthias Schweighöfer’s Sebastian Schlecht-Wöhnert recording a YouTube video professing what beholds the rest of the film: one of his absolute favourite stories. Sebastian talks about the Ring Cycle safes built by the great Hans Wagner and we get a hint how this story is not just about stealing a large sum of money but also, a quest that aims to make his life less ordinary. Soon enough, his obsession with the legendary Hans Wagner gets him recruited by an international, on-the-hunt jewellery thief Gwendoline for a heist that includes cracking three of Wagner’s safes from the Ring Cycle before they get destroyed.
As the film progresses, we see television visuals of the zombie outbreak which works for the central premise for the Army of Dead. However, this particular prequel only focuses on the heist more than the horror action. The characters are introduced in the typical way every Zack Synder character is introduced- with their name in an elaborate font flashing on the screen and a quick flashback from childhood, including the heist team that consists of brash drifter Rolph played by Guz Khan, smart alec hacker Korina played by Ruby O. Fee and the muscle man who seems like an alternate version of wolverine Brad Cage played by Stuart Martin alongside Sebastian and Gwendoline.
As the team embarks on their heist, they are soon chased down by Interpol led by the vindictive agent Delacroix played by Jonathan Cohen. With a breezy romance and comically but well-executed heists, Army of Thieves does a far better job than its predecessor. It is a pleasure to see that the film has shifted its genre to give us a rather concrete movie that is enjoyable at every angle.
Army of Thieves: Matthias Schweighöfer’s Character
Matthias Schweighöfer is the character that holds everything together in the film be it the comical aspects with being the ‘Mr. Nervous Guy’ from the very beginning to the romantic, naive guy in love with Gwendoline. It is a delight how dynamic Schweighöfer’s character is and the charm he brings on-screen that makes us inevitably fall in love with him.
However, for the audience who are watching this film as a spin-off Army of Dead, the question of how Sebastian Schlecht-Wöhnert comes to be known as Ludwig Dieter remains a story to be read carefully. In the scene where Sebastian opens up about his childhood to Gwendoline, he mentions how he had once written a comic book in which the main character was called Ludwig Dieter. Gwendoline later takes this as a cue and registers his name as Ludwig Dieter in the fake passports she had created for the group to flee by the end of the elaborate heist.
Army of Thieves also seems to find its connection to the Army of Dead film as the latter served as the medium where Sebastian, then Ludwig could finally get to crack the last of Hans Wagner’s legendary safe, Götterdämmerung. In this film we see him crack the first three- Rheingold, Walkurie and Siegfried, making both the films together look like a destined journey our safecracker extraordinaire has made.
Army of Thieves: Final Verdict
Army of Thieves belongs to the ones with a romantic heart looking for some fun-packed action and an emotional tragedy by the end. Overall, it is a film you can stream if you are in for some quick action, predictable cliches and goofy romance.
You can watch Army of Thieves now streaming on Netflix.