Review of Stolen


Movie Review: "Stolen"

-- Rating: R (some violence, brief language)
Length: 96 minutes
Release Date: September 6, 2012
Directed by: Simon West
Genre: Action/Thriller

Nicolas Cage had some success with action films, including "Con Air" in 1997, in the past. Now, the director of "Con Air", Simon West, has re-teamed with Cage for "Stolen," an action film that shows that Cage doesn't have to do straight drama in his films to be effective.

Cage stars as Will Montgomery, a man who gets caught up with some unseemly people, including one particular character, Vincent (Josh Lucas), who will seriously affect Will's life. Will and Vincent rob banks and decide to go in together on a huge heist that will net them $10 million. Unfortunately, Will gets caught and goes to jail, leaving behind his beloved daughter Alison (Sami Gayle), who has to grow up without a father.

Will serves eight years of his sentence before he is finally paroled. He knows that he has lost valuable time with Alison, who doesn't really remember him anymore. He vows to do better and leave behind his life of crime, planning on keeping his nose clean.

Vincent has other plans for him. He is convinced that Will still has the $10 million hidden somewhere and is just waiting for the right moment to go and claim it. Bitter because of what he perceives as eight years of delays, he kidnaps Alison and puts her in the trunk of a cab in New Orleans. He then informs Will that unless he comes up with the money in the next 12 hours, Alison is dead.

It is every parent's nightmare to lose a child, and Will is no exception despite the fact that he has missed seeing so many of her formative years because of his time in prison. He does not have the money and has no way to get that much cash within the 12 hour timeframe unless he steals it. The last thing he wanted to do was go back to robbing banks, but Vincent has forced his hand, so Will reluctantly begins planning another bank heist, swearing it will be the last one.

Meanwhile, the police officer who put him away, Tim Harlend (Danny Huston), is keeping an eagle eye on him. He is not convinced that Will is really rehabilitated or that he deserved parole. He is just waiting for the chance to catch Will violating his parole so he can put him back behind bars. If he waits long enough and is in the right place, he may get lucky and catch Will robbing another bank, albeit in an attempt to save his daughter's life.

As Will tries to find his daughter and stay one step ahead of Harlend, the film becomes action-packed. Car chases, foot chases, and shootouts-all at pulse-pounding speeds-are highlighted with excellent camera work. Director Simon West knows how to frame an action scene so that the audience feels like they are along for the ride. The script, from writer David Guggenheim, shows that the smart screenplay for "Safe House" was not just a flash in the pan. "Stolen," proves that a film both be intelligent and have plenty of chase scenes. If Guggenheim keeps this up, he may well become the go-to writer for action films in Hollywood.

Cage made his name initially in quirky comedies like "Honeymoon in Vegas" and "Raising Arizona" as well as more serious dramas. It wasn't until later in his career that he began to star in action films, a part of his career that is still severely underrated. His acting style seems to thrive on chaotic action scenes, making you wonder what took movie executives so long to begin casting him in these types of roles. There are plenty of chaotic action scenes in "Stolen," and Cage appears to relish every single one of them. Instead of his usual over-the-top performance, he manages to stay distinctly nuanced in "Stolen," and this is a big part of why the film really works.

West has directed several films since "Con Air," but none of those films had Cage in them. With the crazy action scenes and stellar performance from Cage apparent in this film, it is a mystery why these two waited so long to work together again. West clearly knows how to play to Cage's strengths, so the next time Cage is looking for an action movie, there may be no better scenario than for him to re-team with West. These two clearly have great moviemaking chemistry together.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars