A prequel to Zack Snyder’s ‘Army of the Dead’, Netflix’s ‘Army of Thieves’ is a heist comedy set six years before the mission in Los Angeles. It follows Ludwig Dieter as a mysterious woman recruits him to crack a series of legendary, impossible-to-crack safes across Europe.
The Plot kicks off with Sebastian Schlencht-Wöhnert (Matthias Schweighöfer), who is a mild-mannered bank teller in Potsdam, Germany. He feels trapped in his mundane routine but is passionate about safecracking, on which he runs a rather unsuccessful YouTube channel.
He is particularly an admirer of the story of Hans Wagner, a locksmith. In his video entitled ‘Hans Wagner: Safemaster”, Sebastian says that Wagner was a legendary locksmith who made a series of four safes, inspired by and named after the four operas in the Ring cycle composed by Richard Wagner.
The four safes are Das Rheingold (The Rhinegold), Die Walküre (The Valkyrie), Siegfried, and Götterdämmerung. He says that it is believed that if someone were to attempt to open any of these safes by force, the contents would be incinerated as the safes locked forever, and adds that while The Rhinegold, The Valkyrie, and Siegfried are still rumoured to be in circulation with their locations a mystery, the whereabouts of Götterdämmerung remains unknown.
Sebastian receives his first view and comment after he uploads his video on Wagner. The comment asks him whether he’d like to test his skills and mentions an address with a password to get in. Curious, Sebastian shows up at the mentioned address at the specified time, and it turns out to be an underground safecracking competition. He ends up winning the competition and sees a mysterious woman (Nathalie Emmanuel) smiling at him.
Sebastian sees the woman again the following day on his way to work in the coffee shop, where she introduces herself as Gwendoline and says that it was she who commented on his YouTube video. Gwendoline claims to be an internationally wanted jewellery thief who is part of a crew that pulls off bank heists. She is about to attempt to heist three Wagner safes and wants to recruit Sebastian as her safecracker. Gwendoline says they only have 96 hours to pull this off before the safes are decommissioned. She also adds that this isn’t just their chance to solve Wagner’s puzzle, but also Sebastian’s only chance to leave his life of drudgery for one ‘less ordinary’. While Sebastian seems reluctant, Gwendoline hands him a card with an address and tells him to sleep on it before making a decision.
Sebastian then goes about his day, not entirely convinced by the scheme. However, he begins to feel the monotony of his daily life filled with unruly clients, unfulfilling work, and solitary existence. The terribly regular day comes to a head when he falls asleep watching the news of the Zombie outbreak in Las Vegas and has a nightmare of being eaten by zombies. Sebastian wakes up scared out of his mind, and as he calms down, he sees Gwendoline’s card as her words ring in his ears.
He goes to the address and accepts Gwendoline’s offer to be part of her team. She lets him in and introduces him to the rest of the crew. This includes Korina Dominguez (Ruby O. Fee), the hacker, Rolph (Guz Khan), the getaway driver, and Brad Cage (Stuart Martin), the muscle. While Sebastian appears enthusiastic about the job and eager to learn, the team, barring Gwendoline, is apprehensive of him because of his inexperience and awkward and timid nature.
Korina then lays out the entire plan. The crew plans to hit the Wagner safes, owned by billionaire Bly Tanaka, in order of their increasing complexity and, therefore, difficulty. However, this means that the Rhinegold, the first safe to be hit, will contain the least amount of money. Brad and Rolph seem a bit annoyed that the team is wasting valuable time on the Rhinegold, which can be used to take the Valkyrie and Siegfried, which are believed to have a combined loot of over 140 million USD. Gwendoline immediately shuts this down and says that the heist is not just about the money; it’s about the quest.
The team then moves to Paris to hit a Credit Union with the Rhinegold and manages to pull it off with no trouble. While Sebastian is worried about carrying all the money, Gwendoline reminds him that the job is not about getting all the money but about the achievement of successfully cracking the Wagner safes, which were believed to be invincible, making them legends. The successful operation boosts Sebastian’s confidence, and he finally finds excitement and a sense of purpose in life.
Meanwhile, Interpol agent Delacroix is hell-bent on tracking Gwendoline’s crew down as they’ve repeatedly gotten past him. He came close the last time they faced off against each other, but he got shot by Brad. Delacroix realises that the crew has a new safecracker and that they’re attempting to go after Wagner’s Ring cycle, thereby giving him and his trusted deputy Beatrix two more opportunities to catch them.
The crew celebrates their successful heist of the Rhinegold, and Sebastian bonds with them over beer pong, sandwiches, and music. Korina makes a pass at him, but he refuses because he likes Gwendoline. That is when Korina reveals that Gwendoline and Brad have a romantic history. A dejected Sebastian still ends up spending the rest of the evening talking with Gwendoline.
Sebastian tells Gwendoline a story from his childhood, how he was different from the other kids in his neighbourhood because of his interest in safecracking. Revealing that, he wrote a comic book documenting his passion. The main character was a master safecracker and explorer with the name Ludwig Dieter. Gwendoline tells him the story of her life, how she began stealing, telling Sebastian that Brad’s real name is Alexis Broschini, and that she has done a lot of stupid things in life, but if she manages to pull off one really great thing, something that would be remembered, nothing that comes before or after would matter.
Gwendoline reveals to Sebastian that she has thought about striking it out on her own without the team and that if she does so, she will go to Nevada in America despite the Zombie outbreak because that’s where the Götterdämmerung is rumoured to be. They laugh and fantasise about going to Nevada together and cracking the Götterdämmerung. Meanwhile, Brad is upset with the increasing closeness between Gwendoline and Sebastian.
The second heist in Prague is far tougher owing to a more complex safe, and better security. Sebastian is incredibly nervous as he finally realises the actual risk involved in the operation, and the crew scrambles to calm his nerves. He steels himself and walks in as Gwendoline follows him, not far behind. Delacroix has a full team of agents surrounding the bank, covering all the exits.
The two manage to make it into the vault with little trouble, but Sebastian and Gwendoline end up bickering as he accuses her of not telling him about her history with Brad. Delacroix doesn’t see anything, but he and Beatrix feel something is off, and they decide to move in. Meanwhile, a guard notices anomalies in the CCTV feed because of Korina’s hacking. He trips a silent alarm and locks all elevators making the team go to plan B.
Brad enters the building like a robber with a gun and mask and shoots all the guards with tranquilisers to buy Sebastian and Gwendoline some time. Delacroix storms into the bank with the cavalry only to realise that the bank has shifted the vault to a ‘more prestigious location’. Delacroix commandeers a car and drives to get to the crew as soon as possible. Seeing Brad, a bank guard triggers the alarm, alerting the authorities and sealing all the exits.
Sebastian finally cracks the Valkyrie after nearly fumbling it, and he and Gwendoline are ecstatic. They embrace and almost kiss when Korina interrupts them on radio for a status update so that Brad can move out. Brad tries to leave but gets shot in the shoulder by a guard; he manages to escape out of a window and make his way back to Rolph and Korina in the van. Meanwhile, Sebastian and Gwendoline manage to flee with the civilians just as Delacroix and Beatrix arrive on the scene. They immediately spot Gwendoline and Sebastian and chase them as they try to get to the van. Brad helps Gwendoline get in but pushes Sebastian off and leaves him for the cops.
Delacroix sits in his office combing through the security footage of Sebastian escaping the cops when he finds his video on YouTube and Gwendoline’s comment on it. He and Beatrix decide to track Sebastian as he would be a lot easier to track than Gwendoline’s crew.
Do they manage to apprehend him?
Army of Thieves, ending explained:
The crew fight amongst themselves, as Brad reveals that they were going to abandon Sebastian after the heist anyway. He believes he made the right call and all that mattered was that they got away clean, saying that Sebastian was never one of them.
Brad also dismisses Gwendoline’s concerns about pulling off Siegfried without Sebastian as he thinks they have enough money and that they don’t have to hit it anyway.
This makes Gwendoline furious, and she tries to leave the van when Brad grabs her and confesses his love for her. Gwendoline says that she doesn’t care and that she’s done; Korina immediately follows her. They decide to make their way to Sebastian together so that they can crack Siegfried.
Sebastian manages to escape from the cops on a bicycle and then gets on a train and makes his way home. Though happy about his escape and thrilled about his accomplishment, he is crushed and dejected by the betrayal.
He enters his home only to find Gwendoline and Korina there waiting for him. They apologise for their betrayal, and Gwendoline says that for Rolph and Brad, the heist was all about money, unlike the three of them who were in it to gain notoriety as the only thieves in the world who cracked the Wagner safes.
She adds that they could only take Siegfried with Sebastian and that the three of them could go out and search for the Götterdämmerung as a team after that. Initially reluctant, Sebastian eventually agrees, and the three of them leave for St. Moritz, where Siegfried is in a casino.
This time, Delacroix decides to exercise restraint and tries to wait for the alarms to go off before going in to apprehend Gwendoline’s crew as he does not wish to give them a window of opportunity to escape. He and Beatrix have every exit under observation. He plans to sit tight for eight hours before the safe is moved from the casino to be decommissioned. His team intercepts a radio message between Korina and Sebastian. They find out the heist is planned to take place at 5 am. He orders his team to keep observing and tells them that they will go in at the same time.
The team promptly enters the casino at 5 am when they’re told by the casino staff that the safe was moved an hour and a half ago. Delacroix then realises Korina had leaked their communication on purpose to throw his team off and that the safe was already with Gwendoline. He is furious as he tries to locate the crew and chase them down before he loses them again.
Meanwhile, Gwendoline and Sebastian are in the truck with the safe. Sebastian is in the back trying to crack the Siegfried with Gwendoline trying to drive the truck while keeping it as steady as possible on the winding Swiss roads.
Brad and Rolph are also on the scene as they had planned to let Gwendoline, Sebastian and Korina steal and open the Siegfried so that they could simply steal the money from them. They try to track Gwendoline’s phone and drive off when her phone pings, but Korina discovers their presence and warns Gwendoline before being arrested by Delacroix. Beatrix threatens Korina’s younger brother, and she tells her the location of the rendevous point.
Sebastian manages to crack the Siegfried hence completing the trifecta. Both Gwendoline and Sebastian are emotional, and as they load the money into the bags to ditch the truck and get into a car to make their way ahead, Brad and Rolph catch up to them. Brad holds a gun and tries to get Gwendoline to take him back when she overpowers and cuffs him and Rolph as she and Sebastian move ahead. Delacroix arrives a short while later, promptly arrests both Brad and Rolph, and pursues Gwendoline and Sebastian.
As they drive towards the rendevous point, Sebastian confesses his feelings for Gwendoline, and they kiss. They make their way onto the pier and are almost on the boat when Delacroix shows up and holds them at gunpoint. Out of her love for Sebastian, Gwendoline surrenders herself to Delacroix. She promises Sebastian that she’ll come to him once she gets out, and they’ll find the Götterdämmerung together. Sebastian escapes on the boat with a heavy heart and resolves to be reunited with Gwendoline one day. He notices the getaway packet set up by Korina on the boat.
He sees that Gwendoline had booked tickets to America for all of them, indicating that she wanted them to stick together. He also sees the fake passports Korina made for their travel and notices that Gwendoline had his name written as Ludwig Dieter, making Sebastian the safecracker-cum-adventurer he had always wanted to be.
Six years later, Scott Ward (Dave Bautista) and Maria Cruz (Ana de la Reguera) go to a locksmith shop named after Gwendoline run by Dieter in California. They offer him a chance to crack Wagner’s missing safe, the Götterdämmerung. Thereby kicking off the events of ‘Army of the Dead’.
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