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Blu-ray Disc Released: 1/8/2013
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 1/7/2013
The financial woes of Nicolas Cage have been well documented in both the tabloids and the legitimate press. Even ABC News reported that "After reportedly purchasing castles, islands, homes, a dinosaur skull, cars and boats, the actor hit the skids." So, it's not surprising that Cage has been making movies back-to-back in recent years, and that, according to IMDB.com, he has 13 projects in the pipeline. Given that, it makes sense to assume that not all of these movies will be winners. But, it seems surprising that Cage would make two non-sequel films which are extremely similar. That was one thing which came to mind while watching Stolen.
Stolen opens with an elaborate bank robbery which is pulled off by Will Montgomery (Nicolas Cage), Vincent (Josh Lucas), Riley (Malin Akerman) and Hoyt (M.C. Gainey). Despite the fact that the feds -- Harlend (Danny Huston) and Fletcher (Marc Valley) -- are hot on their tails, the group gets away with it...well, almost. Will goes back to help someone and gets caught, without the money. Eight years later -- as the cash was never recovered, he received a lighter sentence -- Will emerges from prison anxious to be reunited with his daughter, Alison (Sami Gayle). He finds Riley and learns that Vincent is dead. However, the rumors of Vincent's demise have been greatly exaggerated, and the now crazed and scarred man kidnaps Alison. Believing that Will still has the cash from the robbery, Vincent demands a $10 million dollar ransom. It's now a race against time as Will tries to find his daughter on the crowded streets of New Orleans.
A few months ago, I reviewedSeeking Justice, a thriller in which Nicolas Cage played a man who was racing against time to clear his name and stop a group of vigilantes. The film has shot in New Orleans and featured Cage running past many famous landmarks. Now, I watch Stolen and witness Cage running through Mardi Gras. For a moment, I thought to myself, "Have I seen this movie?" It felt odd to watch two different movies which had such similar moments. As one point where Cage was running down an alley, I imagined that if the camera pulled back we would see that a camera from a completely different movie would be following him. At this point in his career, it honestly feels as if Cage is shooting two movies at once.
Unfortunately, that bit of whimsy is the only interesting part of Stolen. The screenplay by David Guggenheim, who also wrote this year's Safe House, is chock full of cliches and stereotypes and you'll feel as if you've seen it all before. Specifically, the middle portion of the film is reminiscent ofTaken, as Cage's character is racing to save his daughter. The rest of the story gives the impression that bits and pieces were taken from other films, as the ex-con tries to get straight but gets pulled back into a life of crime by one of his old accomplices. The only thing about Stolen which feels original to the genre is that the opening scene lasts nearly 20 minutes. This is interesting given that the entire movie's running time is only 96 minutes.
The lack of originality aside, the biggest problem with Stolen is that director Simon West (Con Air, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider) is that he can't squeeze anything truly engaging out of the movie, despite the fact that Cage is chewing the scenery, as usual. Yes, West gets no help from the weak and pedestrian plot, but this strictly a "by-the-numbers" movie, as Will goes from place-to-place trying to find his daughter. This is supposed to be suspenseful, but, to be honest, we don't anyone well enough to truly care or guess what will happen. We've barely met Alison when she's kidnapped, and while he certainly looks crazy, we aren't familiar enough with Vincent's character to know if he'd truly kill her. (Although the movie tries to remedy that by having him kill others.)
To be fair, Cage actually delivers a pretty subdued performance in Stolen and never goes into his usual rant mode. In fact, it's Josh Lucas who gets to play the crazy one and steal focus from Cage's usual antics. Still, that's not enough to make the movie worth recommending. This is the kind of fodder which chokes up the shelves at Redbox and it's surprising to see so many faces in this one-note movie. Again, Cage is working like crazy these days, so maybe his next movie will be good...one of them has to be, right?
Stolen implies that soundproofing a car's trunk is really easy on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Millennium Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 22 Mbps. The image is very sharp and clear, showing no overt grain and no defects from the source material. The picture is crisp, and shows a nice amount of depth at times. The colors look good and the image is never overly dark or bright. The level of detail is good as well. The Disc carries a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 audio track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 2.0 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The stereo effects are nicely done, most notably those which arrive in the Mardi Gras crowd scenes. We nice a nice feeling for sounds coming from the left or right of the screen here. These scenes also produce some surround effects, but they are a bit subdued. The car-chase in the opening scene produces some good effects, but again the surround could be stronger.
The Stolen Blu-ray Disc contains only a few extras. "Behind the Scenes of Stolen" (7 minutes) features comments from West and the principal cast. Cage and West discuss the development of the script and Cage talks about his involvement in stuntwork. We get some on-set footage here, but it's mainly concerned with soundbytes and clips. We hear from Simon West, Nicolas Cage, Josh Lucas, Danny Huston, Mark Valley, Malin Akerman, and two others who aren't identified (sorry) in "Cast & Crew Interviews" (42 minutes). "Behind the Scenes" (11 minutes) is simply "fly on the wall" on-set video showing key scenes being shot.
Review by Mike Long. Copyright 2013.