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Stolen Blu-ray Review

Stolen (2012) movie poster Stolen

Theatrical Release: September 14, 2012 / Running Time: 96 Minutes / Rating: R

Director: Simon West / Writer: David Guggenheim

Cast: Nicolas Cage (Will Montgomery), Josh Lucas (Vincent Kinsey), Danny Huston (FBI Agent Tim Harlend), Malin Akerman (Riley Jeffers), Sami Gayle (Alison Loeb), Edrick Browne (Jacobs), Mark Valley (Fletcher), M.G. Gainey (Donald Hoyt), Barry Shabaka Henley (Reginald), J.D. Evermore (Rookie), Garrett Hines (Aaron), Kevin Foster (Motorcycle Cop), Tanc Sade (Pete), Dan Braverman (Lefleur), Jon Eyez (Bertrand), Marcus Lyle Brown (Matthews), Matt Nolan (Tessler)

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In 1997, Nicolas Cage teamed up with first-time director Simon West on Con Air, an R-rated action movie that claimed nearly as many theaters as any film that year en route to a $101 million domestic gross that inflation adjusts to the equivalent of a potent $175 M today.
Last September, Cage and West's reunion project, the R-rated action movie Stolen, opened in just 141 theaters and managed to gross just $304 thousand. Those numbers suggest the once-mighty have fallen. Even if Cage and West separately had much bigger and wider releases in 2012, the minimal impact of Stolen points to the diminished appeal of Cage and the genre he and West have favored over the years.

Stolen has all the ingredients of a post-2007 Nicolas Cage thriller. It's set in New Orleans, features fast cars and eventually flames, and stars him as a morally ambiguous guy trying to do right. The film opens with a dark, overlong sequence in which Will Montgomery (Cage) does what he does best. With the FBI, led by heavily invested agent Tim Harlend (Danny Huston), closely watching a jewelry store, Will and his three teammates break into a nearby bank, taking ten million dollars in cash. The heist is complete and a clean escape imminent when Will has a disagreement with one of his longtime partners in crime, Vincent Kinsey (Josh Lucas). The incident leaves Vincent with a bullet in his knee and Will without a getaway ride. Eventually, after much fancy driving and high-speed pursuit, Will turns himself in at a parking garage, but without the stolen money in his possession.

The glitzy color of New Orleans' Mardi Gras is the backdrop to reformed ex-con Will Montgomery (Nicolas Cage) learning his daughter has been "Stolen."

The loot's absence yields a shortened jail sentence for Will. Released on Fat Tuesday eight years later, Will is greeted by a now fedora-sporting Harlend, who is still quite determined to bust the ace criminal on serious charges. Will, meanwhile, just wants to remain in the life of his now teenaged daughter Alison (Sami Gayle). But after a strained meeting in which Will gives her a cheap, hideous blue teddy bear (seemingly a Care Bear knock-off), Alison gets into the wrong taxi, one driven by a vengeful Vincent. Though said to be dead by authorities and colleagues alike, Will is the only character that the eight years have aged. He has lost a leg, some fingers, and a good portion of his mind. The deranged, long-haired cabbie puts Alison in his trunk and demands a $10 million ransom from Will.

Thus, the chase begins. Will, the remorseful thief who in fact does not have those stolen millions and wants to stay straight, is now compelled to steal once more to protect the daughter he loves. Vincent, sickly and still hurt by what he perceives as a betrayal from Will, is willing to drug the girl he threatens to kill if not promptly paid. Harlend and his men, skeptical of Will's story and reluctant to be outwitted once more, stay close by, pursuing both Will and his improbable kidnapping tale.

An unhinged Josh Lucas portrays Vincent Kinsey the partner in crime turned deranged cabbie who abducts the teenaged Alison (Sami Gayle). Harlend (Danny Huston), the FBI agent obsessed with nabbing Will, wears a fedora on the job alongside his partner (Mark Valley).

Stolen is ludicrous on a regular basis. For example, Cage's character is so unbelievably adept that he is able to buy a cell phone and set up call forwarding within mere minutes to place on a train heading for Tuscaloosa, where he has dishonestly told Vincent, the bank loot is, in the event that the crazy cabbie might be able to track the location of an incoming call. (Naturally, he does.)

Making Taken look good, the film doesn't even work on the dark comedy level of Cage's most heinous duds (e.g. The Wicker Man). There are few outbursts worthy of consideration for a sequel to Cage's most famous/infamous acting reel. The parent of an abducted child should be an easy character to sympathize with,
but the father/daughter relationship is so weakly established in the screenplay by Safe House's David Guggenheim that you'd just as soon have the boy-cutted Alison simply disappear into Mardi Gras, and start a new life than be saved by her father.

There are few redeeming qualities to Stolen. One is the brief appearance by Louisianan actor Dan Braverman as a ridiculous caricature of a cab dispatcher. Another is the unintentionally laughable coda, a twist you will be shocked to find an ostensibly serious film trying to pull off in 2012.

It's not as if Cage doesn't have a history of bad action movies that extends much further than his recent money woes. Honestly, Con Air is an atrocious movie that at least indulges its outrageousness on a Jerry Bruckheimer budget full of familiar faces. If that movie was any good, you can bet that the young male violence-tolerant votership of IMDb would have given it more than a 6.7 rating on its nostalgia alone. The same audience, drawn to the genre enough to see this movie, has placed Stolen at a lowly 5.3 already and that is sure to fall as more discover this film, given limited release despite a sizable (and now squandered) $35 million budget, on home video.

Stolen Blu-ray Disc cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com Blu-ray Disc Details

2.35:1 Widescreen
Dolby TrueHD 5.1 (English), Dolby Stereo 2.0 (English)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired, Spanish
DVD Closed Captioned; Extras Not Subtitled
Release Date: January 8, 2013
Suggested Retail Price: $24.99
Single-sided, single-layered disc (BD-25)
Blue Keepcase
Also available on DVD + Digital Copy ($19.99 SRP) and on Amazon Instant Video

VIDEO and AUDIO

Millennium Entertainment may be a small and relatively new studio, but their Blu-ray transfers are clearly up to snuff. Though Stolen is often dark, its 2.35:1 picture is sharp, clean, and practically perfect. The Dolby TrueHD 5.1 sound is even better, supplying an always engaging mix without requiring volume level adjustment.

Director Simon West talks about "Stolen" in a short making-of featurette and extended interview. Nicolas Cage hops around on the roofs of cars in "Behind the Scenes" footage.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

The all-HD extras begin with "Behind the Scenes of Stolen" (6:42),

a brief, routine making-of featurette that talks stunts, action, and characters.

"Cast & Crew Interviews" (42:16) extends the comments sampled in the featurette, letting us hear at length from director Simon West, Nicolas Cage, Josh Lucas, Danny Huston, Mark Valley, Malin Akerman, and producers Kristina Dubin (perhaps) and Ren Besson. The questions are edited out, but the unidentified speakers discuss their characters, co-stars and collaborators, the movie's retro feel, and their delusional commercial expectations (this is supposedly a date movie).

"Behind the Scenes" (10:55) serves up loosely edited B-roll. It's the kind of thing that the person putting together bonus features would presumably get to work with. Without remarks laid over them or clearly audible actor-director interaction, it's just like being a distant fly on an unremarkable film set. The highlight is getting to see Cage jumping around the tops of cars and enjoying watching himself on playback.

Finally, a Previews section adds Stolen's original theatrical trailer (1:47) to the three the disc automatically plays, for The Paperboy, Little Birds, and Red Lights.

The menu's montage features surveillance imagery and heist action with thematic graphics over them. The disc sadly doesn't support bookmarks or resume playback.

Will Montgomery (Nicolas Cage) is shocked and appalled to find the FBI doesn't take his abduction claims seriously. Criminal turned bartender Riley (Malin Akerman) is happy to reconnect with Will, but reluctant to return to their old ways.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

In bonus interviews, multiple cast members liken Stolen to films from the 1960s, '70s, and '80s. If anything, though, this movie is a throwback to schlocky early '90s action movies that likely didn't even get released theatrically. This movie just barely got that on a $35 million budget and with a cast headlined by Nicolas Cage, which gives a strong indication of just how weak it is. The cast assembled here may be recognizable, but the film's quality is comparable to direct-to-video movies that are sure to seem stale by now. Even Cage, who usually keeps bad movies amusing and watchable, cannot do anything to elevate this above subpar action.

The Blu-ray's picture and sound are great, while the hour of bonus features are unusually flabby (more akin to small independent productions) and sort of interesting for it, with their opportunities for crew people-watching.

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Reviewed January 7, 2013.



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