Nic Cage is back, as is the “I want my family back” thriller. Stolen is more of note than it normally would be as it marks a reunion between Simon West (Expendables 2) and Nicolas Cage, whose last film together was the ridiculously fun Con Air. Other than that point, it really is hard to see what elevated such fair to the big screen rather than the straight-to-DVD bundle. Stolen offers the odd thrill and scrap of frivolous fun but mostly it is all baggy, done before and rote filmmaking.
The film borrows heavily from the successful thrillers like Taken, Payback and Run Lola Run but lacks the edge and bite. It also borrows from the Transporter and Fast and Furious series but lacks the energy. It even borrows from less well-received films like Firewall, The Marine and Double Jeopardy. Stolen is an apt title for a film that treads such well-worn ground and the inclusion of Cage does little to hide the constant familiarity. Despite what many think of him, Simon West knows how to do action but in the case of Stolen, there is a lack of enjoyment behind the set pieces. Only a lone gold theft sequence and a final fight manage to raise the adrenaline stakes.
The film is also not so aided by its actors either, who are not given much to play with dialogue-wise. Cage especially feels confined to the doldrums, not allowed to deliver a distinctive character that helped anchor other films of this kind. It is hard to imagine, even a week later that you will be quoting Will Montgomery like you did Bryan Mills. A kidnapping plot doesn’t need self-aware humour but it does, at the very least, need excitement and intensity. Still, Sami Gayle fills the role fine as the kidnapped Alison, even if her character motives are predictable. Josh Lucas’s villain feels hammy and Malin Åkerman is underused, as is M.C. Gainey (another Con Air alumni).
Stolen is not all bad, the opening is rather solid and there are the occasional flutters of fun but ultimately it all reminds us of how much fun Con Air was and how inconsequential this reunion between actor and director is. That said the very vintage heist movie scoring from Mark Isham is good, for what it’s worth. There are worse things to watch as time wasters but there are so many better things too and why Stolen should be seen is a question not easily answered. Go watch Taken or Transporter instead.