So once again we have survived.

Stolen

From the director of THE EXPENDABLES 2 and a synonym for the word “TAKEN” comes this mediocre Cager about a “master thief” whose disgruntled ex-partner kidnaps his daughter.

Mr. Cage plays Will “Gum” Montgomery, the leader of a crew of thieves about to heist $10 million in cash from a bank vault. The FBI (Danny Huston and Mark Valley) are hot on their trail, staking the place out, SWAT team at the ready. But when I say “the place” I mean some diamond place that the crew decoy-cased to throw the man off their scent.

Still, the feds almost catch up with them and they have to make a run for it. We know Will has the ol’ H.O.G. (heart of gold) because

1) right before the job he talks to his daughter on the phone about Care Bears
2) he goes out of his way to not crash into an innocent woman when chased in a stolen police car
3) he looks regretful when he sees family photos inside said police car

so when they flee into the alley and an old man taking out garbages says “Hey, what are you young fellas doing?” you know which side of the “do we shoot the innocent witness” inter-crew policy disagreement Will comes down on. He has to subdue his safecracking partner Vincent (Josh Lucas), who accidentally shoots himself in the leg during the struggle, and is not happy about that. Then the getaway driver (M.C. Gainey) panics and takes off without Will or the money.

Will goes down, but burns the money first for sentencing purposes, so when he gets out 8 years later everybody thinks he hid it somewhere and will go get it. Not just the feds, but Vincent, who needlessly faked his death and is secretly working as a cab driver so he can pick up Will’s daughter Alison (Sami Gayle) and hold her ransom for the money Will doesn’t have and make up rules like I will call you and if you don’t answer within 8 rings she’ll die, sort of like DIE HARD WITH A VENGEANCE but easier. The only time this really becomes an issue is when Will gets arrested and his phone is in the front seat so he has to dislocate his thumb to get out of handcuffs and cause the car to flip and get out and answer it in time. (Seems like more than 8 rings though.)

Meanwhile his daughter is in the trunk of the cab trying to escape or get somebody’s attention. There’s kind of a cool part where she manages to tear her hand through the seat but still can’t get the attention of a dipshit passenger.

I guess with this premise you could go two ways. One is that he uses all his know-how and street knowledge from being a thief to try to catch Vincent and get his daughter back, the other is that he tries to pull another heist to pay him the money. They go with both. Conveniently there was a big pile of gold bars that they left behind during the first caper and the bank did not think to move them or anything, so he has a plan and brings in another one of the old partners, Riley (Malin Akerman), now a friendly bartender but willing to do anything to help her old friend.

I still think of Akerman as Cameron Diaz 2.0, and similar to WANDERLUST she’s kind of this male fantasy of a hot girl who talks openly about sexual matters without batting an eye. But it’s not very clear why she’s so important to the heist other than that he trusts her and he can hand tools to her and stuff when needed. Her character could be stronger but I do like looking at her and I always think it’s cool when there’s a male-female friendship that does not turn into love or sex. Well, I guess at the end (SPOILER) they seem to be living together and raising the daughter (not sure how the ex-wife agreed to this) but before that they just appear to be partners. I suspect it was written for a man but then they realized they should have some boobs up in this joint.

This is merely a watchable movie, not a good one. One thing that holds it back is that it’s one of Cage’s normal guy roles that he doesn’t add much flair to. The exception is a bit in the opening that I assume he suggested, where he has a superstition that he can’t start the robbery until they’ve all listened to a Creedence Clearwater Revival song. Later, in the only scene that hints at mega-acting, he yells at Vincent over the phone about Creedence.

Lucas actually goes more mega than Cage. You remember who he is? A handsome guy who was in Ang Lee’s HULK and David Gordon Green’s UNDERTOW, plus AMERICAN PSYCHO and STEALTH, and he’s still around obviously (he played Lindbergh in J. EDGAR) but it seemed to me like when Hollywood came out with Bradley Cooper it kind of took the wind out of Lucas’s sails. Here he opens the movie as the clean-cut Lucas we remember:

but we hear that during Will’s incarceration he “had a tough time of it” and “I mean, he went really dark” and “he was hanging out with a sketchy crowd, you know” so when we see him again as the bad guy he looks like this:

Oh, and I guess the bullet wound must’ve gotten a real bad infection:

So he gets to be pretty over-the-top, which is something a guy with leading man looks like that doesn’t usually get to do, so you can tell he’s having some fun and that’s a little contagious.

Like so many low budget movies now, this takes place in New Orleans. It’s getting a little old, but they put a little bit of the New Orleans culture in there by having it take place on Fat Tuesday, and Vincent’s hideout seems to be a warehouse where they keep Mardi Gras parade props (nod to TIGHTROPE? or HARD TARGET?), and they got a few of the expected colorful Cajun supporting characters and what not.

Maybe the best use of the location is the foot chase during the parade, which uses the sound of street performers dancing with metal scrapers as accompaniment to make it more suspenseful. Also it’s funny when Will hides on a parade float.

Since CON AIR helped popularize the haphazard editing and camera placement that we now know as the Michael Bay style, Simon West used to be one of my most hated directors. I used to say he was the BASKET CASE lump brother of Bay. But then I went back and watched TOMB RAIDER, which was okay, and I kind of liked his remake of THE MECHANIC despite its shitty action direction, and EXPENDABLES 2 was okay. So now I think of him more as a mediocre hack than an enemy of the cinematic language. Here he’s made a visually flat movie without the story and character strengths of THE MECHANIC but with more competently shot action.

There’s a couple pretty cool car jumps. I guess since Cage isn’t doing martial arts there’s not as much to screw up as with Statham. One clever action beat, to show that safecracking skills aren’t the same as being a ninja: he jumps from building to building and his foot goes through the cheaply made roof. Then he leans against a poorly made rail, which breaks and dumps him into a pile of garbage.

One odd little moment I want to give West credit for: for some reason Vincent dumps glow-in-the-dark stars in the trunk with the girl, and there’s a part where she wakes from being knocked out and sees the stars, and for a few confused seconds it looks pretty, and all is peaceful. Then she figures out she’s in a trunk.

Interestingly, the screenplay is by Davis Guggenheim, director of the Academy Award winning documentary AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH. Well, that’s actually not true, it’s really David Guggenheim, who wrote SAFE HOUSE. But I’m sure they get each other’s mail sometimes so I might as well give them credit for each other’s movies too.

As far as I can tell this really is the German blu-ray cover for STOLEN on the right, next to TAKEN, which STOLEN was maybe stolen from, unless this is taken from a fake STOLEN made as a joke to look like it was stolen from TAKEN.

STOLEN comes to U.S. dvd and rays of blu January 8th, getting a one week drop on TAKEN 2. I heard about this being a movie that existed, but didn’t remember ever seeing any advertising until I got a hold of a screener DVD here. So I wasn’t sure if it was DTV or not until I looked it up. IMDb says it played 141 screens (GHOST RIDER: SPIRIT OF VENGEANCE, not exactly one of Cage’s biggest movies, opened on 3,174.) I’m sure they made it as a wide release b-movie, but they didn’t really put enough elbow grease into it, so this is what happens.

Oh well. I enjoyed it more than TRESPASS, from what I remember. It met the low bar I set for it.


VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.
This entry was posted on Thursday, November 29th, 2012 at 1:44 am and is filed under Action, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

21 Responses to “Stolen”

  1. The teal & orange is strong in this one. The teal & orange is strong in a lot of Cagers, lately.

  2. there’s something so hilarious about that picture of Cage holding a teddy bear

  3. I can confirm that the German home video cover is real.

  4. Interestingly, the screenplay is by Davis Guggenheim, director of the Academy Award winning documentary AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH. Well, that’s actually not true, it’s really David Guggenheim, who wrote SAFE HOUSE. But I’m sure they get each other’s mail sometimes so I might as well give them credit for each other’s movies too.

    obligatory:

    http://www.google.com/search?q=vern

    Ernest P. Worrell still #1, after all these years
    Our man Outlaw Vern, #2

  5. So somebody gets the bright idea to Cageify a Liam Neeson movie and they don’t pick DARKMAN?

    The longer I live on this planet, the less I understand it.

  6. I dunno, Mr. M. How can you really top “TAKE THE FUCKING ELEPHANT!!” complete with superimposed explosions over Darkman’s face?

  7. Darkman is fucking awesome

  8. Lucas went pretty Mega as Maj Talbot in Hulk, if I recall. He seems to have a thing for uglifying himself as well. After Hulk I IMDb’d and was shocked how handsome his headshot was.

  9. Never registered to me that Josh Lucas is handsome, except for the fact that Reese Witherspoon was in love with him in that one movie my girl du jour at the time forced me to watch 10 years ago. Uhh, not AMERICAN PSYCHO, the other one.

    Always thought he had a weird teeth-lips-jaw-chin combination. Something about that smile and the way he enunciates from certain angles. Not as bad as watching Erskine Bowles give a speech, but similar. Just enough to be distracting. Distracting, that is, if I were attracted to the rest of him. It’s more like confusion, like, “My girl wants to do *this* guy? Really?”

    I dunno, I guess I don’t make a very good judge of good-looking dudes. Perusing the internet, I see all sorts of weird comments & blurbs about this guy and that guy making chicks swoon, and all I can think is, “Really?” Then I turn into Seinfeld or Costanza for a minute and find one little thing wrong with their physical constitution to make it okay for me to be disgusted by them, then I feel bad because hey, these dudes are maximizing their looks, they got it they flaunt it, etc., I’m all for that.

    Anyway, what I’m saying is, I’m more comfortable with longhair, one-legged, crazy, ugly Josh Lucas.

    Also, he was in another movie called STOLEN (2009), so in my opinion STOLEN (2012) stole its title from 2 different movies somehow.

  10. Color me jealous, Vern. You got a STOLEN screener before me. Your description actually makes it sound awesome. Flipping a car, clawing through a cab seat…

    “Like DIE HARD WITH A VENGEANCE only easier.” Good stuff.

    Here in L.A. The Mac, theater attached to the legendary Grauman’s gets all the obligatory one theater releases. I don’t know who goes there to watch them. I think the new model is to just dump it in a few for some home video contractual bump. But then the whole platform release model for legitimate releases is broken too.

  11. Lucas looks like Jeff Daniels in the second pic, and Woody Harrelson in the third.

  12. caruso_stalker217

    November 29th, 2012 at 2:03 pm

    Getting more of a “Chris Elliott on ‘Everybody Loves Raymond'” vibe.

  13. C’mon, guys! Am I the only one who’s able to put this together? Gaze upon the first picture again, and let your minds wander freeeeeeeee…

    Nic Cage
    Nic Cage w/stuffed animal
    Nic Cage w/stuffed animal in a movie directed by Simon West.

    Where have we seen this before?… in Con Air, also directed by Simon West. Cage and West would have us believe that there is no significance to the stuffed animal (bunny in Con Air, bear in Stolen), that in both cases it’s a gift for his daughter. Classic misdirection technique; good camouflage. I believe, in all acuity, that the stuffed animal IS in fact the Cage character’s spirit familiar, much as the bird (actual crow) is to Brandon Lee’s character in The Crow. It empowers him, but it can also mark his downfall if destroyed.

    Recall the scene in Con Air when Bedlam (Nick Chinlund) is riffling through that box of stuff in the plane’s cargo cabin, and Cage spots him and issues the stern warning “Put… the bunny… back… in the box”. Bedlam foolishly ignores this, and pays for it with his life. To the uninitiated, it would seem like Cage was merely annoyed that Bedlam was messing with his daughter’s would-be present. Nope… there’s much more than meets the eye.

    Which brings me to Sunny Point #2: Later in the movie, when Cyrus The Virus (John Malcatraz) discovers that Cage’s character has an agenda running counter to that of him and the other hoodlums, he doesn’t hesitate to go for the jugular:

    “Make a move and the bunny gets it.” Goddamn skippy. Cyrus, who’s a psychopathic genius and way higher up on the baddie food chain that Bedlam was, understands the power residing in the stuffed animal. The average moviegoer probably thought it was the funny gesture of a deranged man when Cyrus pointed the gun at the bunny instead of Cage himself, but there was a method to his madness.

    Although I have yet to see Stolen, I can only guess that the stuffed bear has a clever ruse of a backstory (present for daughter, loot from a toy store robbery, etc.), so that Cage and West can cloak its significance yet again. You’re not foolin’ me, fellas. The jig is up, the news is out, [other lame Styx lyrics], etc., and so on.

    You’d think by now Cage would’ve figured out that playing “normal” characters is not catering to his forte as an actor. I think it’s time he went completely off the rails, and it would seem some inventive soul has provided the impetus for this:

  14. Bravo, Amazing Larry. . . bravo.

  15. Funny, I always saw Lucas as a poor man’s Matthew Mcconahey(sp?).

  16. I guess I should explain that the stuffed animal in STOLEN has the exact same narrative purpose as the one in UNDER SIEGE 2: DARK TERRITORY:

    1. to show that the uncle/dad has lost track of the niece/daughter’s age
    2. to show that the niece/daughter is too old for the stuffed animal because she is On The Verge Of Becoming A Woman.
    3. to make the uncle/dad feel bad about his boneheaded gift

  17. Spot on review Vern. This one is worth checking out just for the comedy factor alone. The stars in the trunk were a nice touch. What I noticed when they just how the “hands” of the person who is tracking Cage, I stupidly thought it was the chick. Alas, I was mistaken… It was the dude from Lost all along.

    Must have been over-thinking that one. Josh L. gives a standout performance in this. He goes balls out insane after the gunshot accident. The local’s certainly did give it a much needed realism, at least with the accents, with Fat Tuesday going on and all.

    Everything you mentioned was worth mentioning I must say. Just a perfect summary from the master.

    P.S. I can’t wait for the latest Seagal/Austin review. I’ve seen it myself and just to give you a heads up, he doesn’t dub his first couple lines of dialog.

  18. did anyone else google the melting point of gold after watching this one?

  19. Vern, when will you ever get around to reviewing the greatest example of Nic Cage mega-acting, Zandalee?

  20. Yeah! VAMPIRE’S KISS has the best Cage mega-acting, but ZANDALEE’s gotta be a close second.

  21. So I just saw both Josh Lucas’ Stolens. Stolen ’09 has the better cast (Lucas, Jon Hamm, Jessica Chastain(!), Morena Baccarin, James Van Der Beek) and a good story but a rather anticlimactic twist, undone by some pretty unconvincing old-man makeup. Stolen ’12 has the better Lucas performance (doing a Cage impression??) and some fun parts, but it’s mostly forgettable and kind of boring.

    *SPOILERS*

    1) That’s hilarious you pointed out Malin Akerman literally didn’t need to be there during the last heist. She didn’t even help him drag the gold for crying out loud, she just walked in front of him as he dragged it by himself, while adjusting her gloves for about 3 minutes. Hilarious.

    2) The climax, where Lucas keeps getting killed like some damn road-runner cartoon was so relentlessly stupid I kind of loved it. Between him popping out of the lake like Jason, and Ben Foster turning into The Crow at the end of Hostage, I can’t decide which action movie turned into a horror movie better (or worse)

Leave a Reply





XHTML: You can use: <a href="" title=""> <img src=""> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <b> <i> <strike> <em> <strong>