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Simon West's latest film Stolen is a predictable crime caper that has nothing new to offer save for Nicolas Cage doing what he has done in so many films already. So yes, it really has just nothing new to offer. Marginally watchable at best and completely avoidable at worst, only compulsive movie addicts should bother with this one.
Just how many times are we going to see an aging Nicolas Cage try and pull off what we are supposed to accept as righteously-motivated crimes, I do not know. But from the looks of it, he doesn't plan on stopping anytime soon. Stolen is precisely the kind of Hollywood film I dislike, except this film doesn't even really qualify as guilty fun, for more reasons than one can reasonably count.
Will Montgomery (Cage) is a master thief; he and his team are in the middle of a heist worth $10 million when things go awry and Montgomery is the only one caught. Put away for the long haul, he gets out on parole after eight years. But the prison term has changed him. He now wants to put the 'wrong' life behind him. Life, however, has other plans for him.
Director Simon West, whose filmography includes Con Air, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider and The Expendable 2 amongst others, isn't a stranger to this kind of film - ones that depend on a fast pace and the star value to pull a film through, as opposed to a genuine plot. He has even found a moderate amount of success with them. However, Stolen gives such a sense of déjà vu throughout, that it really becomes hard to take it seriously. So much so that I was half expecting Cage to start spewing dialogue from National Treasure and Gone in 60 Seconds.
Nearly everything about the movie - the story, the look, the dialogue, the background score - has a very generic, been-there-seen-that feel to it. The lines are often clumsy and silly, the plot twists are about as much of a surprise as yesterday's news and most of the performances, including the one by Josh Lucas, who plays the main antagonist, are downright laughable. The screenplay, if I can call it that, is one of convenience. There are far too many outlandish plot holes for it to have even a shred of credibility.
To be fair, Nicolas Cage does try his best to rise above the mediocre script and soulless direction. He can do this kind of role in his sleep now, but that doesn't seem to stop him from giving it his all. Besides, let's face it - he is the kind of guy who you just cannot help rooting for. But the lack of attention to detail can be seen even in the manner in which his character is physically treated - when he leaves jail, he is haggard, has more than a hint of a grey stubble and just generally looks worn out. The rest of the film occurs within a 12-hour period of that, and yet his stubble seems to grow inwards rather than out. Little things perhaps, but they matter a lot if you are trying to create a world for the audience.
If there is one thing that works in favour of the film, it is the run time. Thankfully clocking in at just a little over an hour and a half, the film runs fast and gets over without frustrating the audience too much. But that is honestly just the movie-loving, optimistic side of me speaking. When the audience is always a step ahead of the filmmaker, the film is doomed. Stolen suffers from exactly that, making it nothing more than forgettable.
This review is by guest reviewer Pradeep Menon. Pradeep is a filmmaker and a dreamer. He loves books, rain, winters, tea and his parents. Cinema, however, is the only truth he believes in. He breathes and bleeds film, mostly in hues of saffron, white, green and blue. You can watch his short films at www.youtube.com/cyberpradeep.
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