Nathalie Emmanuel has become a very familiar face with audiences, both at home and on the big screen. Through roles in both HBO’s Game of Thrones and throughout several entries in the Fast Saga, she’s someone that people can recognize almost instantly, and smile with assurance. So while her role of Gwendoline in Netflix’s latest original film Army of Thieves may seem a bit new for her fans, there’s a surprising amount of overlap between Nathalie Emmanuel’s new role as the leader of the film’s titular group, and that of Vin Diesel’s Dominic Toretto.
I was surprised to make the connection myself, while preparing for the Army of Thieves junket that took place recently. Ms. Emmanuel’s role in actor/director Matthias Schweighöfer’s film could have been pretty standard, as any heist team needs a Gwendoline to unite them, and whip them into shape. However, the notion that Nathalie Emmanuel’s experience in the Fast Saga prepared her to become a team lead found its way into our conversation; and she agreed with that statement for the following reasons:
The film, a prequel to Zack Snyder’s Army of the Dead, shows us how Ludwig Dieter (Matthias Schweighöfer) became the master safecracking professional that’s eventually recruited to take on the undead. And that recruitment takes place in a small German cafe, when Gwendoline surprises our hero and taps into his need to make history. In this case, history is cracking three of the four legendary safes designed by enigmatic engineer Hans Wagner, each of which is inspired by Richard Wagner’s Ring Cycle of operas.
Tying back to the theme of family and optimal performance, we see Nathalie Emmanuel’s Gwendoline proposing this grand series of heists in Army of Thieves for a very specific reason. As it turns out, she’s not in it for the money, but the glory of being able to crack these safes before they’re decommissioned. Sure, some money is stolen along the way, but only in case Gwendoline or her crew need to be bailed out of jail. Also, it’s free money; why wouldn’t you take at least some of it?
Securing everything from top of the line technology to a temporary safe house/cat sanctuary for her crew to stay in, Army of Thieves does show us that Gwendoline truly cares about her team. Which does give Nathalie Emmanuel the opportunity to cultivate the same “family” vibes that Vin Diesel is infamous for talking about in the later half of the Fast Saga. That sort of loyalty earns her respect and scorn in equal turn, as the plot of Army of Thieves sees twists and turns that test Emmanuel’s character, as well as those she trusts to have her back in the end.
It’s going to be an interesting experience to see the two-part finale that is Fast 10, as Nathalie Emmanuel’s Ramsey almost feels like the Ludwig Dieter of the Fast Saga. Which is an especially interesting contrast considering we’ve seen Emmanuel go from playing Ramsey, who didn’t know how to drive, to Gwendoline, who drives a truck with a gigantic safe in the back through a winding mountain highway. Sometimes the more things change, the more they really do stay the same.
What’s not the same is the experience you’ll have when watching Army of Thieves, especially when compared to what Army of the Dead had to offer. Both films are currently available for streaming on Netflix, and make for an intriguing double feature, no matter what order you watch them in. If you want to see what else is in store for Netflix subscribers in search of movie magic, head over to the 2021 movie schedule for the platform’s original films, and see what sort of excitement you can dig up in the next couple of months.
CinemaBlend’s James Bond (expert). Also versed in Large Scale Aggressors, time travel, and Guillermo del Toro. He fights for The User.