Simon West’s lumbering action thriller, which reunites the ‘Con Air’ director with grizzled leading man Nicolas Cage, intends to pickpocket 95 precious minutes of your life. Resist at all costs.
Following the lead of the hugely successful ‘Taken’, West’s film hangs its flimsy premise on the daredevil antics of a gung-ho father who will do anything to rescue his kidnapped daughter.
Unfortunately, Cage is no substitute for Liam Neeson, wheezing and puffing through numerous action sequences, including a high-stakes game of cat-and-mouse played out during New Orleans carnival season.
The party atmosphere doesn’t filter off the screen and into the cinema auditorium.
David Guggenheim’s writing lacks the intelligence and adrenaline-fuelled thrills of his script for Safe House starring Ryan Reynolds and Denzel Washington, and clunky dialogue falls flat.
A romantic subplot is stymied by a lack of sexual chemistry between Cage and co-star Malin Akerman, and the waterlogged climactic showdown is unintentional campy.
Cage perfects his minimal acting style as thief Will Montgomery, who pulls off an audacious heist with his associates Vincent (Josh Lucas), Riley (Akerman) and Hoyt (MC Gainey).
One member of the crew gets greedy and Will is arrested shortly after he incinerates the incriminating $10m dollar haul.
Will emerges from prison eight years later with a desire to go straight, which infuriates arresting officer Tim Harlend (Danny Huston) and his partner Detective Fletcher (Mark Valley), who mistakenly believe Will squirrelled away the loot.
The ex-con’s plans to start afresh begin with a frosty face-to-face meeting with his truculent teenage daughter, Alison (Sami Gayle).
“Apparently I have abandonment issues. Go figure,” she snipes coldly.
Soon after, Will receives a telephone call from his old partner Vincent, who is now an amputee taxi driver.
He is holding Alison hostage in the boot of his car for the missing cash.
Will promises to find the money “by going back to wrong”.
The clock is ticking and the professional thief has just 12 hours to conjure up 10 million dollars or Vincent will kill Alison.
‘Stolen’ lurches from implausibility to physical impossibility, and none of the crash-bang action scenes, including a chase through a multi-storey car park, quickens the pulse.
When someone in the film refers with utmost seriousness to Will as “America’s greatest bank robber”, the sniggering begins.
West, who directed ‘The Mechanic’ and ‘The Expendables 2’, is stuck in first gear with the stunts and pyrotechnics, including two hare-brained heists that get Will into and out of a tight fix.
Huston’s cop with a heart is a shameful waste of his talents, and Lucas, Akerman and co have all seen far better days.
Star Rating: 1½