Saturday, December 01, 2012


Soft Toys Can Only Do So Much

I think Nicolas Cage may be in need of a hit soon, since his career and selection of roles have been going down south with a number of fairly ordinary flicks and flops being chalked up. With Stolen, working with Simon West once again to try and recreate a box office smash since their Con Air collaboration, this film was unceremoniously pulled from the US screens after 2 weeks of chalking up less than 1% of its production costs, and looked destined for the video shelves until distributors here feel that local audiences are still holding a candle for Cage and his career. Stolen is very much ordinary, presented like a flatliner without thrills and spills for its genre, and at best a generic, mediocre affair.

12 hours, 10 million, 1 kidnapped daughter. A tagline that runs quite parallel to the local film Kidnapper written by Kelvin Tong and Ken Kwek. Both involve cabs and cab drivers to a certain degree, the kidnapping of our's child, the liberal use of the boot, and one deranged villain, which in this case has a personal vendetta because of one's vanity and pride that got injured in a bank heist gone wrong. Set in New Orleans and predominantly in the Madi Gras celebrations for the most parts, it deals with the bad blood between Vincent (Josh Lucas) and Will Montgomery (Cage), the latter who has been put away for 8 years in their last collaborative effort gone wrong, with the former now after the 10 million that Will supposedly stashed away.

With the cops led by Tim Harlend (Danny Huston) also after Will as well in order to recover the same amount of money, Will now gets sapped into a cat and mouse game with the police, who refuse to listen to the pleas of a ex-felon regarding the kidnap of his daugter, as well as to hunt down Vincent in his moving cab, having drugged and hiding Will's daughter Alison (Sami Gayle) in a reinforced boot. Call it an eventful day, but Will has to exercise his smarts, as well as to execute a plan he had conjured during his incarceration in order to cough out the money he now no longer has, but is the key to securing his daughter's release. Throw in plenty of complimentary car chases, and the blowing up of stuff, to qualify this as an action film.

Written by David Guggenheim (who wrote Safe House), the story couldn't be more uninspired, with everything happening only because of convenience, and New Orleans boasting a very ineffective policing system with cops who could be laughed at no thanks to their unintentional buffoony. I mean, they spend hours and resources to stake out a location, only to have their intelligence go completely wrong, and this happen more than once throughout the story. Yes, I suppose this is to make the protagonists look good, but there's a certain limit that movie logic can be stretched. And I guess Simon West really didn't care about the music used in the film, where the score by Mark Isham got so repetitive, you'd wonder if they had paid for only one tune to be reused so extensively throughout the movie.

Nicolas Cage goes through the motions here in a role that can be played by just about any amateur, and as I mentioned, his career is really in the doldrums right now if he continues with movies destined for the home rental bargain bin. Josh Lucas probably had fun dressing down to make himself less of a pretty boy, trying his best to act crazy with an artificial limb. Malin Akerman has a small role as the token love interest, a one time crew member of Will's operation who has now gone clean and working in a police bar, having to flex some of her Swedish language, while Sami Gayle only had to pout a lot and become the damsel in distress for the film.

Stolen, formerly known as Medallion after the name of the type of cabs in the movie, throws up nothing new. Simon West shows that with a big budget, he can conjure up some pretty nifty action sequences with a decent storyline, but with something less, he's hard pressed trying to get this off the ground and headed for the finishing line.

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