Thieves is about Johnny Clay (Dakota Kennedy), who is hired by Ray (PJ King) to do a quick smash-and-grab job of a safe at a real estate office. Little does Johnny know that this place was a front for local crime boss Cohen’s (Eric Menyuk) operations. To prove a point, Cohen sends his goons to kill Ray, Johnny, and his wife Amanda (Loren Livy), the getaway driver.
Ray and Amanda do meet their demise, though Johnny survives due to a lucrative bank caper. While Cohen has no interest in hitting a bank, he decides Johnny can repay his debt by stealing from the Santa Anita Racetrack for him. Meanwhile, FBI agent Dan (James McEwan), who owes a substantial debt to some unsavory people, is assigned a new partner, Samantha (Jacqi Vene). All the while, Dan is fed information on the upcoming racetrack robbery by Lily (Olivia Lemmon); who just so happens to be Cohen’s mistress. She took quite the shine to Johnny.
“…Johnny can repay his debt by stealing from the Santa Anita Racetrack…”
Bryan C. Winn’s black-and-white crime thriller certainly packs a ton of characters and plot into its 80-minute runtime; which is simultaneously its greatest strength and biggest weakness. Thieves moves at a breakneck pace, rarely letting the audience breathe, much less slow down for things like character development. Lily visits Johnny at home and has a plan for the two of them to take all the money. This scene builds momentum and is beautifully paid off by the end. From a thrills-and-action standpoint, the pace is fantastic. The excellent cinematography, tension building editing, and amazing score help immeasurably.
But, it leaves little time for characterizations. Despite all the action centering around him, Johnny is very bare-bones. Kennedy does an excellent job of making the thief an engaging presence, but if you asked me to describe the character, it would be a concise sentence. He’s a thief who owes money to a mobster and is stoic over the death of his wife. Nothing about the way the plot plays out changes him or his view of the world.