'Army of Thieves' review: Is Matthias Schweighöfer's Netflix prequel Snyder-esque?

A still from Netflix's 'Army of Thieves', starring Matthias Schweighöfer (Image via Netflix)
A still from Netflix's 'Army of Thieves', starring Matthias Schweighöfer (Image via Netflix)

Matthias Schweighöfer's highly-anticipated comedy-thriller, Army of Thieves, just dropped on Netflix and it's full of pleasant surprises.

Directed by Matthias Schweighöfer himself and co-written by Zack Snyder, the premise of the film is set six years prior to the events of its already released sequel, Army of the Dead. Matthias Schweighöfer is back as Ludwig Dieter but portrays his character's early days of safecracking. Dieter is hired by a mysterious woman, along with a group of misfits, to pull off a heist.

The leading roles are taken by Nathalie Emmanuel, Guz Khan, Ruby O. Fee and Stuart Martin in addition to Matthias Schweighöfer. Army of Thieves is produced by Deborah Snyder, Zack Snyder, Wesley Coller, Matthias Schweighöfer and Dan Maag, with the screenplay by Shay Hatten.

'Army of Thieves': A summary and review





The premise of Army of Thieves follows Ludwig Dieter (Matthias Schweighöfer), an office teller bored of his monotonous life and desperate to make better use of his safecracking skills. The opening scene provides background on safe locks and the three impossible-to-crack Ring Cycle safes spread across Europe, namely Rheingold, Walkurie, Siegfried and Gotterdammerung. He spends his free time making YouTube videos that are watched by almost nobody.

One day, he ends up being invited to an underground safecracking contest, which he wins, thanks to his amazing safecracking skills. He is later lured into joining a crew of thieves, or aspiring ones atleast, who want to break into the three Ring Cycle safes – although the fourth safe, the Gotterdammerung, is the one Sebastian is destined to crack in Army of the Dead.

The small crew is put together by jewel thief Gwendoline (Nathalie Emmanuel), who also has a romance going on with Ludwig later on. He soon starts to put his safecracking skills to good use as the gang starts with the heist while the zombie outbreak is taking over the world.


Army of Thieves is funny, unique and clever with its heists. The plot twists and revelations along with the thrilling chase scenes add a nice touch to it. The storytelling has a zippy pace, with all the smash cuts and Snyder-esque motions, thanks to editor Alexander Berner. The movie score is given by the very best Hans Zimmer, along with Steve Mazzaro, adding perfection to every scene.

As for the direction in Army of Thieves, Matthias Schweighöfer adds a flair of comedy with Ludwig's encyclopedic knowledge. Not to forget, the very superhero-like introduction to the characters and movie references dropping every now and then. One character's charm and wit can really carry a movie indeed. The lively dynamic of the crew feels like a jolt of energy but also, at times, lacks dimensions. It can be said, however, that it leaves plenty of room for character- and world-building, which is something Zack Snyder likes.

A still from Netflix's 'Army of Thieves' (Image via Netflix)
A still from Netflix's 'Army of Thieves' (Image via Netflix)

Army of Thieves is far from pretentious and is definitely in the long line of inclusive stories championed by Netflix. The film also hints that Snyder might segue into a more mentorship-style role instead of directing films, as he wishes to tell as many stories as possible from every angle. The Army universe is his to reign over, but it can showcase voices besides his own by bringing in fresh perspectives – much like executing the perfect heist.

Army of Thieves is now streaming on Netflix.

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Edited by Sabine Algur
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