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A former thief frantically searches for his missing daughter, who has been kidnapped and locked in the trunk of a taxi.
For more about Stolen and the Stolen Blu-ray release, see Stolen Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on January 12, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.0 out of 5.
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Malin Akerman, Josh Lucas, Sami Gayle, Danny Huston, Edrick Browne
Director: Simon West
» See full cast & crew
Stolen Blu-ray Review
And the award for most unoriginal film of 2012 goes to...
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, January 12, 2013
No one sets out to be a criminal.
It's not that Stolen is a textbook bad movie (seen any flicks from The Asylum lately?), it's that the film is almost absurdly unoriginal. Here's a movie in which Nicolas Cage runs around New Orleans looking for his daughter who has been kidnapped by an old friend out for revenge and a cut of a large sum of money that no longer exists. Cue various chase scenes, numerous shots of Cage running and yelling around busy city streets, a bland car chase, flailing fisticuffs, and voilà, behold the epitome of the inconsequential, no-thought Action flick. Stolen begs, borrows, and yes, steals from countless other films that have done pretty much this very thing, some better than Stolen, some worse, and most drowning in a sea of mindless cinema conformity to safe, crowd-pleasing action and story angles, right down to the last "ah ha!" final "gotcha" shot meant to leave viewers walking away with a chuckle but here more than likely a groan at the picture's failure to conjure up even one single new idea for a very tired genre.
Will Montgomery (Cage) is one of the world's foremost thieves. He and his trusted team -- including Vincent (Josh Lucas), Riley (Malin Åkerman), and Hoyt (M.C. Gainey) -- are on the verge of scoring ten million in cash from a bank vault. They're under constant surveillance from the authorities -- Agents Harland (Danny Huston) and Fletcher (Mark Valley) have been hot on their trail for some time -- but manage to give their pursuers the slip and gain the extra time they need to pull off the job. On their way to the getaway vehicle, Will and Vincent are spotted by an innocent bystander; Vincent wants to kill the man, Will wants to let him go. A struggle ensues, Vincent is shot in the leg, and Will is left alone to evade the police. He's eventually captured, but not before he can burn the cash.
Fast-forward eight years. Will is released from prison and quickly learns from his old nemeses Harland and Fletcher that Vincent has died from his wounds. Will is determined to move on with his life, to play things straight and leave the life of crime behind. He's eager to catch up with his estranged daughter Alison (Sami Gayle) and begin a new life of peace, family, and love. Unfortunately, Alison's not ready to make a commitment to her criminal father or believe he's a changed man. Yet no sooner do the two part ways does Will receive word that Allison has been kidnapped by none other than Vincent, who is surprisingly alive but not-so-well -- physically or mentally -- after all. His demand: his cut of the ten million Will doesn't have. To get his daughter back, Will must find a way to get the money Vincent wants, and he might just have to pull off one last job if he's to save his daughter's life.
In defense of Stolen, there are a couple of eye-opening moments that might ever-so-briefly blind audiences to the blatant unoriginality at play throughout the movie, but such moments are brief and largely elements of convenience necessary in moving the plot forward rather than genuine genre-changing steps away from tedium. Generally, however, Stolen wades through its 90-minute runtime with the cinematic equivalent of a monotone voice and refusal to deviate from a script that itself refuses to deviate from the bland Action movie playbook, specifically the chapter on "reformed father and estranged daughter come together thanks to a harrowing experience in which lives are at stake and blood must be shed in the name of reuniting family and saving innocent lives." Movies like Taken and Live Free or Die Hard have just recently done it much better. Certainly others have done it worse -- Stolen is at least a slick and technically competent film -- but just the sheer familiarity of the thing and the absolute paint-by-numbers, zero deviation sort of adherence to generic film elements all keep Stolen largely in the doldrums or cinema irrelevance.
Yet it's just slick enough to make it enjoyable on a very base level. It's sort of like the McDonalds cheeseburger of movies -- billions and billions sold -- that's the same everywhere, cheap, not healthy, but convenient and, generally, not too repulsive and certainly filling if the craving comes and nothing better's available or within a reasonable price point. And good for Stolen to cater to that market. Cinema's backbone comes from movies like this, throwaway little nothings of movies that keep the production lines churning, cast and crew employed, and money running through the system. Stolen's preprepared ingredients come together well enough; there's a competent chef in Director Simon West (Con Air) and a well-portioned helping of main ingredient Nicolas Cage doing his thing as well as the script allows, which asks only for little range and largely generic emotions. Cage handles the part well enough, ditto the various supporting players who make the movie suitably palatable. Josh Lucas does turn in a very good effort as the antagonist, making the character menacing and mean beyond the physical attributes. As for the entire movie, watch it, enjoy it for what it is, and move on to the next task. "Watch and forget" is where Stolen excels, that's all it asks of its audience, and that's all the attention it really deserves.
Stolen Blu-ray, Video Quality
Stolen's high definition Blu-ray presentation satisfies in all areas. Millennium Entertainment's transfer offers rich colors and solid details from start to finish. The source material offers a rather smooth, inorganic appearance, a bit sterile but certainly not lacking in crisp textures and solid clarity. Indeed, facial and clothing details are top-notch, and the complex urban landscape around New Orleans -- including cars and structures -- appears perfectly defined even in longer distance and overhead shots. The color palette is very strong, perhaps a hair washed out but offering a brilliant array of flavorful hues, from vibrant yellow and blue cabs to more mundane earthen and urban grays around the city. Black levels are very good, like the colors a hair washed out but mostly steady and pleasing in nighttime scenes and shadowy corners alike. Flesh tones present no immediate problems. The image shows only trace amounts of banding and no other severe ailments of note. In summation, a very good presentation from Millennium.
Stolen Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Stolen features a high quality Dolby TrueHD 5.1 lossless soundtrack. Certainly, it's not so good as to stand out from the pack, but it does everything well, presents all elements in good working order, and satisfies in every scene. There's a good general presence to music; there's noticeable heft to the notes accompanying the opening titles, yielding very natural front-side spacing and clarity. The basic refrain that plays through much of the movie that takes on a fairly light and playful throwback caper style sound also plays smoothly and accurately around the stage. There are some good choice directional effects during action scenes and a few enjoyable specific elements, like a chunk of a heavy vault that zips from front to back and lands with a thud behind the listening area in one scene from the movie's opening minutes. The Mardi Gras festivities bring a nice, steady stream of mood-critical ambiance to various scenes; listeners will never feel absolutely immersed in the moment, but the general din proves suitably effective. Dialogue is even and clear, playing naturally and steadily through the center speaker. This is a good example of a well-rounded Blu-ray track that doesn't stand apart from the crowd but that does stand tall and deliver all that's asked of it with ease.
Stolen Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Stolen contains a couple of short supplements and a lengthy multi-participant interview piece.
Stolen Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Stolen may be the ultimate "tweener" movie. It's no even remotely good but neither is it in any way, shape, or form bad. What it is a completely derivative and unoriginal picture, but one that does serve the purpose of casual entertainment. Audiences going in and expecting a slick production with no ambition beyond general entertainment will be satisfied; those looking for the next great movie may as well not even bother. It's technically sound and not at all offensive; just be ready to be dazzled by the sheer level of unoriginality on display. Millennium Entertainment's Blu-ray release of Stolen features upper-end video and audio. A few extras are included. Give it a rent or consider a purchase when the disc makes its way to the bargain bin.
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