Three actors with Hawaii ties will share the big screen with a mix of Hollywood heavyweights and rising stars when “Den of Thieves” opens Friday in theaters nationwide.
“At it’s core, it’s a cops and robbers film,” said Kaiwi Lyman-Mersereau (pictured), who co-stars alongside Gerard Butler as a cop assigned to an elite team of sheriffs in Los Angeles.
Kauai native and former Miss Hawaii Teen USA, Sonya Balmores Chung, appears in a supporting role after starring in the ABC television series “Marvel’s Inhumans” last year. And current UFC featherweight champion and Waianae resident Max Holloway makes a cameo in the film as one of the bank robbers led by Pablo Schreiber (“Orange is the New Black,” “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,” “Weeds”) with Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson and rapper Ice Cube’s son, O’Shea Jackson Jr., also among his henchmen.
“The easiest way to describe it is as a 2018 version of ‘Heat,’” Lyman-Mersereau said of his latest project, which follows a role as a convicted serial killer in 2017’s “American Violence” opposite Denise Richards. “You’re watching (the action) from both sides. It’s not like you’re just following the good guys around.”
In “Den of Thieves,” Butler’s squad of regulators is tasked with tracking down an elite crew of outlaws who have conspired to attempt a bank robbery of the Federal Reserve’s downtown L.A. branch. As with “Heat,” the 1995 thriller that stars Robert De Niro and Al Pacino, Lyman-Mersereau said “Thieves” is action-packed with a number of shootout scenes that should keep viewers on the edge of their seats.
“They’ve done test screenings and apparently it’s scoring really, really well,” he said. “It’s pretty surreal, walking with my son (around Los Angeles) and a bus will drive by with daddy on the side of it!”
The 2002 Mid-Pacific Institute graduate said “Den of Thieves” could be the stepping stone to stardom he’s been looking for since moving to Hollywood after high school.
“There’s a lot of star power connected to this one,” Lyman-Mersereau said. “That’s the whole thing. The next one’s is always a little better. You’re just going up the ladder. It’s actually perfect timing because (‘Den of Thieves’) is coming out during pilot season, the busiest time of year for actors.”
Friday will also be recognized as “Kaiwi Lyman-Mersereau Day” by the City and County of Honolulu, with a short ceremony planned at Mid-Pacific that morning with his parents and a representative for Mayor Kirk Caldwell.