The last time Stolen director Simon West teamed with Nicolas Cage the two created one of the ‘90s best action films Con Air. But does Stolen soar to “put the bunny back in the box” levels of brilliance or does it crash and burn like plane shot from the skies?
Will Montgomery (Nicolas Cage) is one of the best safe crackers in the world. Teaming up with Vincent (Josh Lucas) and Riley (Malin Akerman) for a big money score the team soon find themselves on the run from FBI agent Tim Harlend (Danny Huston). In order to prevent Vincent from killing an innocent janitor, Will puts a bullet through his leg. While Riley and Vincent make their escape, Will is caught but the money never found. Eight years later Will is released and, with the FBI and cops still suspicious of him, wants to make amends with his young daughter Alison (Sami Gayle). But Vincent, now minus a leg and looking decidedly like a washed up hobo, has other ideas and kidnaps Alison in exchange for the money he feels he’s owed. Only problem is Will no longer has the money.
Generic and predictable to a fault, Stolen is so by the numbers you can almost guess every plot point and character beat like Will cracking a safe. So much so that as the opening heist unfolds, and the cops close in on the team, you just know that the cops are about to rumble an empty bank as opposed to the one that is actually being robbed.
West does his best to juice the action but its never spectacular, more run of the mill, the kind of action we’ve seen countless times before, making the outcome never less than predictable. Add to this a soundtrack that feels the need to be playing, constantly, to the point of intrusion and you’re left with a headache not from the excitement on screen but the cacophonous noise of wailing instruments.
The up side is the script, by Safe House writer David Guggenheim, along with the actors on offer, throw-up some wonderfully outlandish characters. Set in Hollywood’s new playground of New Orleans, it speaks volumes that the closest thing to a normal character we get is Nicolas Cage. Here Cage is asked to do little more than run and look pensive. It’s a far cry from his other incarnation in such films as bad Lieutenant but you suspect this one was for the paycheck rather than the excuse to go all crazy on us. Akerman is rendered obsolete by being asked to be nothing more than eye candy for both the heist team and the film overall. Sami Gayle, so mesmerizing in Tony Kaye’s Detachment, is wasted as waif of a thing trapped in a car boot for most of the running time. Thank God then for Danny Huston and Josh Lucas. Huston, sporting a very dapper pork pie hat, gets to be the good cop who just wants Will to go straight, whilst unloading rounds of bullets at his fleeing nemesis. Lucas meanwhile is clearly reveling in his villainy duties. Sporting long hair, only one leg and drug fuelled eyes he seems to be channeling Cage’s usual eccentric ways by way of Nick Nolte’s hobo chic from Hulk. Cartoonish doesn’t quite cover it.
A bombardment on the senses that leaves you nothing but num, Stolen would have been better if it had been left, like the bunny, in the box.