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MANILA, Philippines - For what it’s worth, Stolen is fine in some respects.
Foremost of these is the fact that the New Orleans-set movie is a helpful tourism boost to the once Katrina-ravaged locale, both in picking the place as a filming location and for showcasing the sights of the city’s so-called Fat Tuesday, a.k.a. its annual, pre-Ash Wednesday Mardi Gras.
Stolen also fills the need of typical male moviegoers for tidy celluloid pap to pass 96 minutes of their time, which is probably what convinced SM Cinemas to pick up the 2012 flick for its “Cinexclusive” series. (Had these times been the pre-Megamall 1980s, Stolen could easily be running in some of the now-missed theaters on Rizal Avenue in Manila.)
Stolen also has an okay array of actors, including reliable supporting players Danny Huston and M.C. Gainey, and the star of the show, Nicolas Cage.
Been there, seen that
Stolen is a cops-and-robbers caper where the robbers are both protagonist and antagonist: In this case, Nicolas Cage and Josh Lucas as former bank-breaking buddies who become estranged following a heist gone wrong.
In a lightweight attempt at irony, Cage’s character ends up having to take on the biggest theft of his life as ransom to save his kidnapped daughter, and 90 percent of Stolen is devoted to whether he can pull this off in just one day (bad guys can be so impatient) while avoiding the FBI.
As scripted by David “Safe House” Guggenheim, Stolen’s plot is so simple and uncomplicated that is more akin to background white noise, one that would inspire viewers to stare at their cellphone screens instead of at the theater’s big screen.
Its narrative setup is all too familiar, running on the unimaginative machinations of a textbook thriller made even more lackluster by its criminally pedestrian sensibility.
As dumbfounding icing on this bland cake, composer Mark Isham gifts the movie with a synthesizer-based theme that curiously sounds like bad ’80s music.
Watch the trailer of 'Stolen' here:
The missing link
Stolen is directed by Simon West, who not only had an earlier, cheesy hit this year with The Expendables 2 but had also directed Cage in the action-packed guilty pleasure that is Con Air.
Given the tandem’s respective experiences and previous collaboration, it could have been possible that Stolen would be, if not a class act, at least an engrossing adrenaline rush. That their latest joint output isn’t might be attributable to a key Con Air element who is missing from the Stolen equation: accomplished producer Jerry Bruckheimer.
Bruckheimer himself is not one for the art house crowd, but he does have a knack for orchestrating better-than-average box-office hits. Had he gotten involved with Stolen, the movie could have been at least an interesting indulgence.
Edgy Cage, where art thou?
The thing about life, and movies, is when someone’s got a good thing going, all the great things preceding it come to mind. Conversely, if someone’s in a funk, memories of past low points seem to resurface easily.
If Stolen had been a great movie, it would be but natural for critics and viewers alike to also remember Cage’s more opportune cinematic ventures, such as Leaving Las Vegas, Raising Arizona, Adaptation or Face/Off.
Since it’s a dud, Stolen instead gets enshrined in the Nic Hall of Shame like Bangkok Dangerous, Next, the two Ghost Riders, and their ilk. It’s not even middle-of-the-road Cage a la City of Angels, It Can Happen to You or the two National Treasures.
(One also wonders why SM Cinemas would open its often empty moviehouses nationwide to Stolen when it could have made room for the far more interesting fare of Cinema One Originals Festival 2012, which has been limited to two Mandaluyong theaters.)
If Cage wants to fill his filmography with throwaways, that’s his business.
But if he has an iota of a damn for audiences who have indulged in his more compelling offerings, the wealthy, 48-year-old actor would do well to consider a future making fresh classics instead of tired clunkers.
Either that or he should give us back the movie-ticket money he had “stolen” from us. - Rappler.com
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