It's been far too long since Kurt Russell has graced our screens with his presence. (If I'm not mistaken, his last major film was 2007's DEATH PROOF, which is crazy.) So while it may seem odd that his first role back would be in a small, indie heist comedy, THE ART OF THE STEAL is a great vehicle to remind us of the man's presence and charm as an actor. Plus, he plays a guy named Crunch Calhoun. What's not to like?
ART OF THE STEAL boasts a great cast aside from Russell and everyone has real chemistry together. More importantly, it feels like they're having fun with the material and the result is a film that feels natural and effortless in execution. Matt Dillon plays it suave and slimy as Russell's backstabbing brother. Apatow vet Jay Baruchel is in his element as the snarky apprentice. Daily Show' correspondent Jason Jones makes for a surprisingly effective d-bag cop. Even Zod himself Terrence Stamp gets in on the action. As with most crime capers, each person gets their time to shine as part of the ensemble, but Kurt Russell is the best part of the movie by far. His character is old and weathered (at one point working as an Evil Knievel stuntman who gets paid to crash), but still a badass. I don't know if you ever truly believe he isn't ten steps ahead of everyone else because, c'mon—he's Kurt Russell. But he's having such a good time you don't really care.
The film itself has a decent amount of style and energy. It's your basic heist movie with an "honor among thieves" spin. The visuals are fun and engaging, and director Jonathan Sobol is, never content to just point the camera and shoot. It moves at a quick pace, never looking back or wasting time with filler. There are some great lines ("Our father was the Johnny Appleseed of sperm.") and Russell is an inspired choice to deliver potentially cliché narration like, "You don't forget a second of your stay in the Warsaw penal system." Overall, it's a simple story with a couple predictable twists, but featuring likeable characters played by great actors. You could do a lot worse.
There may not be much quantity here but these special features are mostly quality.
Commentary by writer/director Jonathan Sobol and producer Nicholas Tabarrok: The pair covers pretty much everything you'd want to know, from working with such an epic ensemble to trying to decide on the right title for the film. (THE BLACK MARKS and THE FIX were early considerations.) It's an informative track, but the whole time I was itching for at least one member of the cast to be involved.
Doing the Crime: Making THE ART OF THE STEAL (29:35): At nearly half an hour, this surprisingly in-depth feature is better than most. You get interviews with pretty much every cast member involved, as they open up about what drew them to the project, what it was like to shoot and much more. There's a little brown-nosing but overall this is a solid BTS piece.
The Making of "The Theft of the Mona Lisa" (5:03): In the film, a character tells a visually unique flashback story about how Da Vinci's famous painting was stolen. This shows how they shot that sequences as its own mini film and the effects work used to pull it off.
THE ART OF THE STEAL stars Kurt Russell so it's automatically worth watching. However, aside from that pedigree, this actually is a fun surprise thanks to a great cast and well-tailored story.
Extra Tidbit: Pretty sure I spotted a random reference to Jay Baruchel's role in THE SORCERER'S APPRENTICE.