Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Vault, the new action thriller from visionary director Jaume Balaguero, came barreling onto my radar when the trailer dropped in early February. The ensemble cast was just too strong to ignore. Sometimes low expectations for a project can produce the most surprising chemical reactions: The Vault is one of the most exciting and crowd-pleasing action films I’ve seen in a long time. It feels like a movie that’s tailor-made to be experienced in a theater together with a big audience, and it lovingly taps into that National Treasure meets Ocean’s Eleven sweet-spot.

Desperate to get his hands on the elusive coins that will lead to Sir Francis Drake’s legendary hidden treasure, art dealer Walter (Liam Cunningham) recruits a team to break into the vault of the most secure location in the world: The Bank of Spain’s vault. The mastermind of the operation, Thom (Freddie Highmore), may be the key to successfully mapping out a way in to a place that has been utterly impenetrable for over 80 years.

There are, of course, elements of any number of different heist movies. If you’re a fan of that particular subgenre, The Vault doesn’t exactly check off any boxes in the originality department. It even overlaps much of the Spanish treasure setup from the video game Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune. However, The Vault is too fun to care where it lifts what from. The team is made up of some truly great actors, which strengthens the proceedings even more than you’d expect. Freddie Highmore and Sam Riley in particular have strong chemistry together and play their respective characters in a way that keeps you glued to their clashing viewpoints. I do wish Famke Janssen had a slightly beefier role, but she still makes the most of limited screentime. It remains intense throughout, especially given the backdrop of the World Cup that makes for an extra burst of pizazz. The film’s final act goes into full-blown action mode and delivers big moments with expert precision.

The Vault would be an excellent feature to launch a franchise, and I’m hopeful that if enough people catch on, this is precisely how things will play out. All the same ingredients are here that make similar movies like National Treasure, Ocean’s Eleven, or even The DaVinci Code into bonafide box office gold. A sequel is so easy to envision with the way this ends that it left me craving more time spent with these characters. The world is always hungry for the next big action franchise, and this feels perfect to scratch that itch. The Vault releases on Friday, March 26.

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