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Film Review: Stolen

Stolen

It is rare that in a Nicolas Cage film the most ridiculous, outrageous and preposterous thing is not Nicolas Cage.

If you think that sound unlikely allow me to summarise the plot.

Nicolas Cage plays Will Montgomery, a thief who is trying to rescue his daughter from a one-legged, eight-fingered, scarred-faced villain who has her locked in a taxi boot.

See?

Put succinctly, this is the silliest Nic Cage film since the last one. Yet it is vaguely entertaining. The first 20 or so minutes are probably the best, but it creates enough good will to carry you through to the relatively close end. It manages to set up the rest of the film and entertain and that is something that seems increasingly rare.

But don’t misunderstand, this is an absolutely ludicrous film. What it does have on its side though is that it has no pretensions. It is just pure action from beginning to end. Whilst evening the ending finds it difficult to compare to the action in the beginning, they make a pretty good effort of removing everything else from the movie. There is about four minutes of non-action scene setting dispersed throughout the film.

He weirdest thing about this however, must be how straight it is all played. Cage is relatively restrained and even the one-legged taxi driver doesn’t ham it up as you might expect such a baddie to do. There are no wacky sidekicks and no puns. Everyone just gets on with it, which helps keep it at a respectable 90ish minute mark.

The screenplay is by David Guggenheim, whose only other movie credit is Safe House starring Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds. That was also enjoyable but ridiculous. Stolen however sees more of the latter at the expense of the former. This is a very clichéd film, not offensively so but it doesn’t add anything new. Then again, it isn’t trying to.

Directed by Simon West, this is a far more enjoyable experience than the turgid The Expendables 2, but then so is emergency rectal surgery without aesthetic performed by blind monkeys in heat. To further damn with faint praise, this might actually be one of his best movies to date. It certainly beats Tomb Raider and the mind-numbingly boring “horror” When A Stranger Calls.

That this film was an absolute failure at the box office (with worldwide gross of $2 million from a $35 million budget, US gross of $300,000) is a little harsh when you consider how much absolute garbage makes so much money. Then again, it is a stupid film. I also doubt it will find a cult following on DVD, for it seems to lack any of the charm or blatantly over-the-top to make it an ironic goldmine.

If this film feels somewhat ambivalent, that’s because it is. You have to give it some recognition for keeping everything lean and playing it straight in a world of bloated, stodgy, pun-laden garbage (of which the director is guilty of pushing in a big way, incidentally) but then again it is really stupid.

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