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Reviews by Dr. Frank Swietek   

STOLEN 
D+ 
Producer  Rene Besson, Matthew Joynes and Jesse Kennedy 
Director  Simon West 
Writer  David Guggenheim 
Starring Nicolas Cage  Josh Lucas  Danny Huston  Malin Akerman  Sami Gayle 
Edrick Browne  Mark Valley  M.C. Gainey  Barry Shabaka Henley 
Studio  Millennium Entertainment 
Review  Another B-movie shot in New Orleans with Nicolas Cage, “Stolen” features bank robberies, kidnapping, car chases and even human immolation, but its major crime is that it’s unconscionably boring. The real act of theft here is of the ninety minutes the picture steals from your life.

Cage gives one of his normal guy—read tiresome—performances as Will Montgomery, a supposed genius at planning elaborate heists who’s partnered with the more down-to-earth, volatile Vincent (Josh Lucas). After a bank job gone wrong—during which Will shoots Vincent in the leg to prevent him from killing a witness—Will’s nabbed by obsessive FBI agent Tim Harlend (Danny Huston, underplaying as well) and sent to prison for eight years. When he gets out, he tries to reconnect with his estranged daughter Alison (Sami Gayle).

But though everybody thinks he was killed by drug dealers, Vincent is still alive, though he lost his leg, as well as several fingers he cut off to fake his own demise. And he’s determined to force Will, who wants to go straight, to turn over the $10 million in loot he thinks Will had hidden before being captured. (Actually, Will had burned the cash.) So he kidnaps Alison, locks her in the trunk of his cab, and threatens to kill her if the money’s not forthcoming.

When Will’s pleas for official help are dismissed, he tries to save Alison himself, but when that plan fails, he finally enlists their old getaway driver, pretty bartender Riley (Malin Akerman), to aid him in another bank robbery to get Vincent what he wants. But even though he comes up with the loot, his wacko ex-partner has other ideas for revenge on his mind, which triggers an especially ludicrous final showdown.

As directed with professional competence but no zeal by Simon West (“Con Air,” “The Expendables 2”) and shot during Mardi Gras by Jim Whitaker to take advantage of the festivities in order to give the story some background noise (Cage is inserted into parades, street performances and gridlocked traffic to provide local color), “Stolen” moves along reasonably well and doesn’t look bad. But despite all the action, the movie is pedestrian and monotonous, the sort of thing that would barely pass muster as late-night premium cable fodder.

It’s certainly not helped by Cage, who has a lot of running and jumping to do but gives one of those painfully earnest turns that doesn’t take advantage of his affinity for over-the-top gonzo work. Lucas tries to pick up the slack in that department, tossing off a slew of scripter David Guggenheim’s most purple lines of dialogue and generally acting the wild, zonked-out loon. But it’s not enough. His cartoon turn is in contrast to Huston, who seems determined to keep his facial muscles as immobile as possible and allow the ludicrous porkpie hat Harlend inexplicably wears while sleuthing do his acting for him. The supporting cast just goes through the motions—Gayle doing the damsel-in-distress bit perfunctorily—but Akerman is at least nice to look at.

Cage apparently likes shooting in New Orleans, and in one of the movies he’s made there (Werner Herzog’s sort-of remake of “Bad Lieutenant”) he turned in one of his best recent performances—weird, wacky and wonderful. But this by-the-numbers revenge tale doesn’t use him to best advantage. Frankly, despite all the action he looks bored—and watching “Stolen,” you will be too.

A postscript: according to the credits, it took no fewer than thirteen producers to make this movie. That averages out to about seven minutes of footage each. All of them might do well to consider another line of work. 

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