Just like every movie isn’t Art, not every movie has resonance beyond the moment you’re sitting and watching it – whatever the intentions of the filmmakers.
And that’s okay because not everything needs or should possess canyon-deep layers of subtext (and besides, there’s an argument to be made for the difficulty creating something fairly light and breezy bringing challenges all it’s own).
That being said, it’s kind of nice when you turn something on and are surprised at how textured, how resonant it ends up being.
Though that’s not likely a feeling you’d get watching Mattias Schweighöf’s Army of Thieves, because it’s all very much surface, which has less to do with Schweighöf’s acting – he also plays the lead, Deiter Ludwig – or directing than the writing of Zach Snyder and Shay Hatten.
Thieves is a prequel to Zach Snyder’s Army of the Dead, which is a problem because under normal conditions he’s a mediocre writer, though having to figure out how to write a prequel of the movie he co-wrote and directed is beyond his abilities.
For instance, the idea of three safes named for sections of Richard Wagner’s Ring cycle: Die Walküre (The Valkyrie), Siegfried and Götterdämmerung) that Deiter is obsessed with cracking is a great idea.
What isn’t is that Snyder and Hatten came up with the idea after they wrote Army of the Dead, and applied it retroactively.
And speaking of Army of the Dead, Army of Thieves too often gives you reminders that it’s a prequel by having Deiter having dreams of zombies (which is happening concurrently in the United States). This is really irritating though it jumps the shark when a character – virtually talking to the camera – says that maybe what Deiter is experiencing some sort of predestination and is moving toward his death.
This is done in such an on-the-nose fashion that I’m surprised that she didn’t wink at the camera.
As I said earlier, not every movie needs to be deep, but it helps if they take themselves seriously enough that viewers might feel the same.