Sunday, November 11, 2012

Another day, another chase

(Published in City Express, The New Indian Express, on November 10, 2012)




Cast: Nicolas Cage, Josh Lucas, Sami Gayle, Malin Åkerman, Danny Huston, Mark Valley, M C Gainey
Director: Simon West
Rating: 2 stars
Must be nice to belong in a gang that robs banks. You mess around with the FBI, and send them sniffing the wrong trail. Then you either shoot yourself in the foot and get classified as dead, or save an unlucky bystander, burn your loot, and head off to prison. Or, you could become barmaid at a pub frequented by cops. If you get in trouble, speak Swedish. If you get in more trouble, rob another bank. Don’t worry, the cops will understand. Because everyone’s really nice, you know. For all this to happen, you must listen to Creedence Clearwater Revival as often as you can. Don’t ask. That’s my takeaway from Stolen.
The soundtrack starts off nicely enough, prepping us for a film full of chases. But then, the same beats and chords play over and over again, so the movie starts feeling more like a video game than a thriller. The first big chase happens within twenty minutes or so, and then we skip eight years ahead to more big chases.
Meet Will Montgomery (Nicolas Cage), loving father, bank robber, and CCR fan. Meet Vincent (Josh Lucas), sarcastic partner-in-crime, former football player, and future corpse. Meet Hoyt (M C Gainey), gross dude who rents a cheap apartment and yells at dogs. Meet Riley (Malin Åkerman), who appears to be dating all three men she works with. Meet Alison (Sami Gayle), Daddy’s little girl with abandonment issues. Meet the FBI (Danny Huston and Mark Valley). They’ll hunt you down when you’re stealing cash, but you can all bond over the suckiness of divorce when they’re in a better mood.
There are some things Hollywood action potboilers take for granted. One of these is that a happy ending is within sight when a man kills another man violently, in the presence of a troubled teenager. The upside of this is that there is never a dull moment. The downside is that the film would have folded in two minutes if any of the characters had been a tad more intelligent.
The plot is thin, and you wish the few lines in the film had been cut out too. Because you do sort of know what should happen in the end, and all you have to focus on is how it happens. There are enough car crashes, burning tyres, burning people, suspicious partners, unlicensed guns, and GPS-enabled devices to keep us entertained. There isn’t too much bloodshed, or violence, or storyline.
They should call this genre “thriller drama”, because there are more tears and hugs than killings here. But we’re hooked anyway, mainly because the theme music misleads us into thinking something exciting is about to happen every few minutes. Nicolas Cage has some cool-dude lines, and the film has the stamp of familiarity.
The Verdict: If you’re feeling lazy, stupid, or both, Stolen is a good way to pass the time.

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