Director: Simon West.

Starring: Nicolas Cage, Josh Lucas, Malin Akerman, Danny Huston, M.C. Gainey, Sami Gayle.

Certificate: 15.

Running Time: 96 minutes.

Synopsis: A recently released thief trying to go straight frantically searches for his missing teenage daughter who has been kidnapped and locked in the trunk of a taxi by a former criminal partner.

In many people’s eyes, it’s difficult to know where it all went wrong for Nicolas Cage. The Oscar-winner may still be a box-office draw when in the right project and gives genuine oomph to many roles, but he’s been involved in more guff than greats. Cage’s latest effort sees him reunite with his CON AIR director Simon West, and while the duo’s 1997 all-star action spectacle is a massive guilty pleasure, the fact STOLEN went straight-to-DVD in the States suggests it may be better to “put the bunny back in the box” and stick with another viewing of CON AIR. Cage’s ‘Crazy Eyes’ charisma is perhaps what keeps his fans returning for more, despite a growing number of recent drivel like DRIVE ANGRY, SEASON OF THE WITCH and BANGKOK DANGEROUS.

Surprisingly, STOLEN is no disaster. The 1970s-inspired opening mini-credits sequence is a masterstroke next to Mark Isham’s thumping score as we’re given a quick-yet-simple introduction to Will Montgomery (Nicolas Cage) and his crew’s thieving ways before seeing their latest crime come to a literal crushing conclusion via Danny Huston’s determined Detective Harlend. This in-turn lands likeable Will with an eight-year stint in the slammer, but a missing $10 million continues to perplex the police. Once released from prison, Will’s immediately welcomed with an eye-opening quote of, “I hope you got raped everyday!” by Harlend and his deputy, warned about going back to his wayward lifestyle. Setting out to patch things up with the daughter he left behind, Will picks up a stuffed teddy bear along the way – perhaps a nod to Cage and West’s past adventures.

Josh Lucas hams it up as the hotheaded Vincent much like he did in Ang Lee’s HULK, as his one-legged, Flock Of Seagulls-styled psycho limps from one outrageous scenario to the next. Though it’s a role he fits well, he is unable to eclipse his terrific turn in true-crime biopic, WONDERLAND. Danny Huston turns in a decent performance, but his channeling of Gene Hackman’s Popeye Doyle (hat included) is a little distracting. However, despite the contemporary setting of New Orleans at the height of Mardi Gras, there is a feel of the stylised crime classics of the seventies running throughout.

West’s direction is not on the same scale as his previous big-budget, action-packed entries, but he does just fine with SAFE HOUSE scribe David Guggenheim’s screenplay. There is enough to suggest it deserved better on its initial US release when you consider STOLEN gives viewers some genuine thrills amongst Hollywood’s recent generic action output. Much like last week’s action release PARKER, starring Jason Statham, STOLEN doesn’t break any new ground or set the bar high in terms of performances or set-pieces, being preposterous at times. But it’s hard to dislike a film that wears its heart on its sleeve. A few surprises and an ingenious finale when Will gets desperate raise the film above similar, mediocre fare, and it’s Cage’s finest lead genre effort in almost a decade. Fun, but forgettable.


Three Out Of Five Stars

STOLEN is released in UK cinemas on March 20th.