(Published in The Sunday Guardian, on November 11, 2012, retrieved from http://www.sunday-guardian.com/masala-art/a-messy-yet-empty-cage)
Cast: Nicolas Cage, Josh Lucas, Sami Gayle, Malin Åkerman
Director: Simon West
Rating: 2 stars
The poster has an ageing Nicolas Cage running in the sun, a burning car in the background and the words, ‘12 hours, $10 million, 1 kidnapped daughter’ in the foreground. Now, are you surprised the movie grossed about a hundredth of its budget before it was pulled from screens? Stolen feels pathetically low-budget, though that’s unlikely, given that Cage stars in it, and Simon West is the director.
I’m not a fan of chase movies, mainly because they take an hour and a half to show us what we knew would happen after the first fifteen minutes. In this case, there’s a chance you won’t make it past the titles without having a seizure. It’s a mess of quick cuts, psychedelic footage, and black-and-white shots that hurt the eyes.
If you do survive the opening credits, you’ll be taken to a street in New Orleans, where we realise the following:
(a) The FBI is stupid
(b) Criminals are stupid, unless they’re Nicolas Cage
(c) Criminals are selfish, unless they’re Nicolas Cage
(d) Criminals care about little children and janitors
(e) Being shot in the knee can be painful
(f) The chick in a criminal gang can get feministic
(g) Mardi Gras can be confusing, and sometimes dangerous
To its credit, Stolen keeps us interested by having lots of people hunt down each other, and opening up several possible ways to reach a predictable end. The problem is, there’s only so much you can do when the plot revolves around a good bad guy, a bad bad guy, and a couple of gutsy chicks. And the film offers nothing new, except for a rather amusing simile about being caught red-handed.
The film is short enough, and rather nicely paced, with – thankfully – very little dialogue. But it stretches credibility way too often. By the end, you’re rolling your eyes fast enough to counter the jump cuts. It doesn’t help that a villain who’s supposed to be menacing looks like a cross between Long John Silver and Bradley Cooper, and talks like he’s spoofing a Bollywood baddie. As for Nicolas Cage, this could be one of the least consistent characters he’s played, and except to prove he can still run on top of cars and look miserable while shooting away at the bad guys, he has nothing for an audience – even an audience of fans.
The Verdict: You should probably just wait for the film to be shown on TV. I wouldn’t recommend spending money on this DVD, leave alone tickets.