Army of Thieves, based on the story written by Zack Snyder and Shay Hatten, follows the origins of a nerdy safecracker, Ludwig Dieter (originally named Sebastian Schlencht-Wohnert). The narrative depicts the events that happened six years before the Army of the Dead. At the beginning of the zombie outbreak, Ludwig had a mundane life and lived in the shadows.
The film, directed by Matthias Schweighöfer, portrays Sebastian as the underdog hero who cracks the most complex safe in the world, designed by virtuoso locksmith Hans Wagner.
‘Army of Thieves’ Plot Summary
Sebastian Schlencht-Wohnert (Matthias Schweighöfer) was a clerk who lived in Germany. In his free time, Sebastian created Youtube videos revolving around safecracking. Sebastian began his video with the masterpieces of a respectable German locksmith named Hans Wagner. After Hans Wagner lost his only child and wife tragically, he devoted his life to his work. In his waning years, Hans designed four safes based upon the opera of Richard Wagner’s legendary Ring Cycle. The Rheingold, the Valkyrie, and Siegfried were rumored to be still in circulation. However, their location was one of the greatest mysteries. The fourth safe, Gotterdammerung, just vanished, and no one had any idea what became of it.
Sebastian quickly uploaded his video on his channel with 0 subscribers and not a single view on any of his creations. A disheartened Sebastian left for his job and began his mundane routine. After listening to the customer’s yelling, Sebastian took a lunch break and checked his channel. He was surprised to find a comment that invited Sebastian to a house at the end of Leipziger Str. Berlin to test his safecracking skills. Sebastian found out about an underground cell where an organization conducted illegal betting on safecrackers. The nerdy safecracker showed his excellent skills and won the competition. Sebastian also met his lady love, Gwendoline (Nathalie Emmanuel).
Gwendoline belonged to a rich American family but didn’t want to end up like the nobles. She found no fun and excitement in royal life, and when she stole a wristwatch at the age of 6, it made her feel complete. After Gwendoline found her calling, she left her parents and became an internationally wanted jewelry thief. She belonged to a crew that executed international bank heists, and that was why she needed Sebastian.
Gwendoline wanted to recruit Sebastian for a heist that involved cracking three safes designed by his inspiration, Hans Wagner. Due to the Zombie outbreak in America, the three safes, The Rheingold, the Valkyrie, and the Siegfried, were about to be transferred to a vault in Geneva. They were going to be decommissioned in 96 hours, and thus Gwendoline concluded that it was their last chance to solve Wagner’s magnum opus. At this proposal, Sebastian had two choices. Either go back to his mundane life and wait for the zombie outbreak to end his life, or take the big leap and live a life less ordinary.
Read More – ‘Army of Thieves’ Hans Wagner’s Safes: Rheingold, Valkyrie, Siegfried & Gotterdammerung, Explained
Major Spoilers Ahead
Due to zombie outbreak, the world was soon going to end. Sebastian got visions of zombies attacking him and eating him up. Death was inevitable, and hence, when Sebastian realized that he had nothing much to lose, he took the big leap.
He approached Gwendoline, who introduced Sebastian to her small team of misfits. A prodigy computer hacker, Korina Dominguez, an ace drifter and driver, Rolph, and a muscled leader, Brad Cage (influenced by American action stars like Brad Pitt and Nicholas Cage).
With the help of the misfits, Sebastian cracked the first Wagner safe, the Rheingold, that was kept inside a community bank in Paris, France. While the first heist was pretty simple, their act caught the attention of Interpol officer Delacroix. He had been hunting Brad and Gwendoline for a long time and shared a personal enmity with the gang as Brad shot Delacroix during a chase.
Inside the gang, a seed of doubt and conflict arose when Sebastian tried to hit on Gwendoline. For a long time, Gwendoline and Brad were romantically involved, and thus, a possessive Brad decided to kick out Sebastian. During the second heist, Sebastian successfully cracked Wagner’s Valkyrie safe stored in a high-security bank in Prague, Czech Republic. But during their escape, Brad left Sebastian behind, and he had to run from the police.
Brad’s action enraged Gwendoline. He argued that they were only cracking the safe for money, and they had enough. However, for Gwendoline, it was not about the money but to do something extraordinary, like cracking the safe designed by the greatest safe maker. It was much more artistic, like putting a dent in the universe. However, a hot-headed, Action Hero couldn’t fathom the layers of an artist. But a vulnerable and underdog Sebastian did. That was why Gwendoline was so attracted to him. After an argument, Gwendoline left the gang, and Korina followed.
‘Army of Thieves’ Ending Explained
Gwendoline and Korina approached Sebastian and convinced him to do the third heist, cracking Wagner’s Siegfried. The third safe was inside a casino in St. Moritz, Switzerland. The trio tricked Interpol and stole the safe from the Casino. Sebastian tried to crack it on the moving truck. While outside the Casino, Brad and Rolph found out Gwendoline’s location. Korina, present near the Casino, tried to stop Brad, but Interpol arrested her.
Fortunately, Sebastian cracked the safe. Gwendoline and Sebastian tried to run away when Brad cornered them and pointed a gun at Gwendoline. The skillful thief tricked her hot-headed ex-boyfriend and cuffed him to the truck. The Interpol arrived and arrested Brad and Rolph.
Near the port, Gwendoline and Sebastian tried to run away when Delacroix stopped them. Gwendoline made a deal with Delacroix to let Sebastian go and arrest her instead. In a scene, while watching Sebastian’s youtube videos, Delacroix felt sorry for the underdog, and thus influenced by his emotions, he let Sebastian leave.
How did Sebastian Schlencht-Wohnert become Ludwig Dieter?
In a heart-warming conversation, Sebastian shared his childhood memories with Gwendoline. He told her that he was an outcast kid who never really fit in this world. While other kids played in the streets, Sebastian retreated into his own world of safecracking and spent long hours improving his skills. Sebastian started drawing a comic book about a master safecracker and explorer Ludwig Dieter to document his passion. When other kids aspired to become Superman or Batman, a superhero with a cape, Sebastian idolized his own created hero, Ludwig Dieter.
Gwendoline found Sebastian’s comic book hero charming and easy to pronounce probably. She remembered the name and thus got Sebastian a new passport under Ludwig Dieter. It was a moment that may have made your eyes teary because it’s so touching when people remember the small details you shared with them. Sebastian felt the same, and with his new identity, Ludwig Dieter, he came to America.
How did Army of Thieves connect with Army of the Dead?
Gwendoline and Sebastian dreamt of cracking all four safes based on the Ring Cycle. But in the Army of Thieves, they found only three. No one knew the location of the fourth safe, the Gotterdammerung. Gwendoline promised Sebastian that she would find him after her release so that they could find the Gotterdammerung.
After coming to America, Sebastian/Ludwig Dieter continued his quest to locate Gotterdammerung. He believed that he would someday reunite with his love inside the safe of Gotterdammerung. Sebastian opened his own shop under the Gwendoline name, called Gwendoline’s Safe & Lock Co.
After the Las Vegas Zombie outbreak, Scott Ward formed a team to recover Bly Tanaka’s money from his Casino in Las Vegas. To crack the safe, Scott came to Gwendoline’s safe & lock co. As soon as Sebastian saw the blueprints of Gotterdammerung safe, he quickly became a part of Scott’s team. In Army of Thieves, Korina told the gang that all the Wagner safes were under the ownership of the infamous billionaire, Bly Tanaka. Hence, Sebastian’s finding the Gotterdammerung safe was not a mere coincidence but a beauty of Snyder Verse.
It was Sebastian’s life-long wish to crack the Gotterdammerung safe, and when he did, he finally fulfilled the promise he made to Gwendoline. Sebastian, the lover, could now finally rest in peace. In Richard Wagner’s opera, Gotterdammerung, Siegfried dies and Brunnhilde throws herself at his funeral pyre. Symbolically, in Army of the Dead, Sebastian threw himself to the Zombie King.
Army of Thieves is a 2021 Heist Film directed by Matthias Schweighöfer and written by Shay Hatten. It is based on the story written by Zack Snyder and Shay Hatten.