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Review: Finding Steve McQueen

Finding Steve McQueen
7 10

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PLOT: On the run following his involvement in a bank robbery that attempted to steal millions from Richard Nixon’s illegal slush fund, Harry Barber (Travis Fimmel) gets a job in a small town and falls head-over-heels in love with the local sheriff’s daughter (Rachael Taylor). Meanwhile, a dogged FBI agent (Forest Whitaker) closes-in on him and his accomplices.

REVIEW: There’s no denying it – we’re living in the middle of one of the biggest content booms pop culture has ever seen. As a critic, I get bombarded with dozens and dozens of pitches every month for movies to review. The priorities are typically as follows: pretty much every major theatrical movie gets a review from someone here at the site, as do mainstream streaming fare. VOD releases are a different beast; with us typically tackling ones which we feel will resonate with readers, or at least have the potential to be good.

I’m admit that the reason, more or less, that I’m reviewing FINDING STEVE MCQUEEN is that I was drawn in by the title, being a hard-core fan of the late king of cool. It helps that the film stars Travis FImmel, whose WARCRAFT is a movie both I and the editor-in-chief (and my erstwhile “Beard and the Bald” co-host) Paul enjoyed. Having Mark Steven Johnson as a director also drew my attention, although I’d admit to not really being a fan of anything he’s done to date (and yes – I know some people love the R-rated cut of DAREDEVIL – but it’s pretty dated nowadays).

So, I went into FINDING STEVE MCQUEEN with my expectations in-check, but I’d admit that that I was surprisingly charmed by this low-key sleeper. Featuring winning performances by Fimmel, Rachael Taylor, Forest Whitaker, William Fichtner and Lily Rabe, this more than held my attention throughout and hits the VOD sweet-spot (the bigger the star – the worse the movie- so a mid-level cast like this is just perfect).

It’s Johnson’s best movie to date, with him refreshingly downplaying the tropes of the genre to deliver a comic heist (based on a true story) that’s never too predictable, while eschewing the minutia of the crime to focus on what really distinguishes it from the pack – the romance between Fimmel’s affable crook and Taylor’s small-town dream girl.

fising steve mcqueen, rachael taylor, travis fimmelIn some ways, this is like DOC HOLLYWOOD if he were a bank-robber. Fimmel impressively subverts his own macho look by playing Barber as something of a well-meaning goofball. Adopting a bit of a stammer, he’s something of a nerd despite his matinee idol looks and build. Worshiping Steve McQueen, he’s dyed and permed his hair, drives around in a souped-up Mustang, and wears cool blazers and turtlenecks like his hero – even if he’s far too clumsy to ever be quite as cool.

He falls in with a crew led by his uncle, Enzo (William Fichtner) who’s obsessed with Nixon and wants to rip him off – with the crew – in a twist that’s just crazy enough to be true – getting an opportunity that’s through a bank in California. The heist goes off without a hitch, but the fellas are too clumsy to clean up after themselves properly, leading to Harry’s flight from justice.

The film criss-crosses back and forth between the heist and Harry’s new small-town life, and the result is a surprisingly warm and sweet movie that’s easy to invest in. Part of this has to be due to Taylor, who gives a sweet performance as the small-town girl he falls head over heels for (who can blame him?) – even though you know their romance is a ticking time bomb waiting to go off when the feds catch up with him.

For his part, Whitaker humanizes his fed, giving him a nice back and forth with his partner, played by Lily Rabe, who seems to have a bit of a crush on the lonely fed. Despite a low (ish) budget, the period detail isn’t half-bad, with a nice soundtrack of period hits, including Eddie Rabbit’s “Drivin’ My Life Away” and some Tommy James classics (did they strike a deal with his estate to get a package of tunes?).

While the poster art and title may fool you into thinking this is a retro styled action flick, FINDING STEVE MCQUEEN is actually a soft-hearted caper/romance with some terrific performances. It’s easy to overlook things with such a backlog of VOD content, but this is an under-the-radar pick worth catching up with.

Source: JoBlo.com

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