Reel Action: Stolen, starring Nicolas Cage, Josh Lucas and Malin Akerman

STOLEN (2012)
Rating: 2.5 out of 4

Tagline: 10 Hours. $10 Million. 1 Kidnapped Daughter.

Directed by: Simon West
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Josh Lucas, Danny Huston and Malin Akerman

THE PLAN:Will Montgomery has just served eight years in the slammer after a heist gone wrong. Once sprung, he finds himself squaring off with an old associate who believes he stashed away some of the money before his arrest. Now Will only has a few hours to find this thug some dough before he blows away Will's daughter.

THE KILL: Earlier this year I reviewed a flick starring Mark Wahlberg called CONTRABAND, in which a reformed thief had to go back to his devious ways in order to save his imperiled loved one from a psycho. Now I'm reviewing STOLEN, in which a reformed thief has to go back to his devious ways in order to save his imperiled loved one from a psycho.

Of course, that basic plot is nothing terribly new, but neither is STOLEN in general, which stars fairly subdued Nicolas Cage in the lead role and is competently directed by Cage's CON AIR helmer Simon West. The movie is incredibly straight-forward in its goals and hasn't many working braincells, but it coasts along on the beats of its familiar formula and benefits from a practically insane performance from Josh Lucas, who wins the "Nic Cage Overacting Award" for 2012.

"Can't be good when you see your own farts, can it..?"

STOLEN opens with a crafty team of thieves, led by Cage as Will Montgomery and filled out by Lucas' Vincent, Malin Akerman's sexy Riley (there's always a sexy lady thief, right?) and their getaway driver, Hoyt (M.C. Gainey). They're being tracked by a dogged agent (Danny Huston), but naturally they've outsmarted him and led him astray, so they're just on the brink of getting away with the heist until they're spotted by an old janitor, who Vincent wants to kill immediately. Showing his good side, Will thwarts Vincent (who gets shot in the leg in the scrap) and eventually gets caught while the rest of the gang hightails it . Will is able to burn the cash first (if he's caught with it he gets even more time in jail) and spends the next eight years in prison, being an honorable crook and not giving up his accomplices.

One he's out, Will seeks to reunite with his daughter (Sami Gayle) and lead a normal life. However, that's going to be hard because Vincent is right there to screw up his day. Vincent has fallen on hard times in the eight years, having gotten mixed up with the wrong crowd, lost his leg, and been relegated to driving a cab. Dude actually looks like a bleach-blond pirate now, so he's naturally looking for something to turn his life around: like his cut of the ten million the gang stole. Vincent has taken it upon himself to kidnap Will's daughter and hold her until Will is able to come up with the cash. Of course, Will's explanation that he torched the loot doesn't fly, Vincent wants any money, and so Will is going to have to scramble with a way to save his kid an get Vincent a large chunk of bread before the day is over.

For anyone wondering, "Hey, where has Josh Lucas been?", well, now you know...

Most of STOLEN involves Will running from car to car, place to place, as he simultaneously tries to find out where Vincent is (he's in a cab with the kid stashed in the trunk), while trying to avoid the cops, who of course think he's up to no good. West settles his film into a routine of cell phone conversations and car chases, neither of which are incredibly exciting to watch at this stage. Still, West knows more or less what he's doing and can stage an adequate action sequence, even if it's a no frills affair. Setting the flick in New Orleans of course gives the movie that city's inherent charm; it also doesn't hurt that it's Mardi Gras!

Cage is in serious mode here, so we don't get the lovably ridiculous hysterics of his"best" performances. But Lucas chews up so much scenery as the bitter, totally crazy Vincent that I don't know if STOLEN could have handled another actor so over-the-top. There are some truly laugh-out-loud moments with Lucas that are either intentionally bizarre or unintentionally hilarious; either way, you'll be glad they're in there because it gives the movie some nutty energy. (Special mention should be paid to Danny Huston, who also goes for broke as the determined cop; he has a few gems of his own here.)

TOP ACTION: Most of the action sequences are exactly the same; car chases. Nothing special, really.

TOP DEATH:In the tradition of all movies like this, the bad guy must pay the ultimate price in death, so he's run over, burned alive, impaled, locked in a trunk and then drowned. Christ!

TOP DIALOGUE: There are plenty to choose from when it comes to Lucas' raving maniac, but my favorite has to be this nugget he spews to Will's daughter as he bemoans his present sad-sack state: "I was a golden boy, dollface, and now I'm a friggin' Picasso!"

HOMOEROTIC MOMENT Cage's Will and Huston's Tim have one of those mutual-respect relationships shared by honorable thieves and cops in the movies .

FEMALE EXPLOITATION: Malin Akerman doesn't have a whole lot to do, but her brief screentime is welcome because she's pretty damn hot. (No naked time, though)

DRINKING GAME: Drink every time Cage and Lucas have a silly conversation on the phone. There's going to be a Mardi Gras in you livingroom by the time the movie is over.

TRIVIA: Clive Owen and Jason Statham were both attached at different points to the film.

STOLEN was produced by Millennium Films, which also made THE EXPENDABLES flicks and the upcoming TEXAS CHAINSAW 3D.

STOLEN had a brief theatrical release here in the states in September (bet you didn't know that); it comes to Blu-ray/DVD on January 8th.




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