'Stolen': Cage Vehicle Breaks Down
Glenn Kenny, Special to MSN Movies
"How am I not in that movie?" That's what Andy Samberg, impersonating Nicolas Cage, asked the real Liam Neeson on a "Saturday Night Live" episode last spring. He was referring to "Battleship," not "Taken," but the sketch got to "Taken" later, and one sort of can't help but thinking of that while watching "Stolen," in which the real Nicolas Cage plays a robber-gone-right after a prison stretch ... only he has to go wrong again after an ex-partner kidnaps his now-teenage daughter.
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Usually a dumb Nic Cage action vehicle can be kind of fun, but "Stolen" begins at overdetermined, makes a pit stop at outright sadistic and winds up in the parking garage of ridiculous even for a movie of this sort. It begins with the "job" that gets Cage's character a prison stretch. All the elements are in place: good-girl partner (Malin Akerman), loose-cannon partner (Josh Lucas), nemesis cop (Danny Huston). The overdetermination is signaled by Cage's character's insistence on listening to a lucky classic rock tune all the way through before commencing a job, for luck. Established the "quirky-criminal" charm credentials, oy.
Stationed outside the New Orleans jewelry emporium that the Feds are sure is gonna get hit, Huston's character lets out a howl of outrage as he realizes he's foiled again: "We're on the wrong block! They're robbing a bank!" Oh, that Nic. Things go wrong, Cage's character goes up the river, and when he's released, not only is Huston's cop back on his trail, but loose cannon Lucas, having faked his own death and gone from unreliable to very, very bad (you can tell because he's grown his hair out and has scary bags under his eyes) abducts his now-teenage and very cranky daughter, in the hopes of recouping the loss from the prior robbery. "I don't have the money," Cage's character, who has the evocative name Will Montgomery, protests. This annoys Lucas' evil dude to the extent that he gives Will's daughter a little chat about how he mutilated himself to fake his own death, and he's willing to do the same to her. That's the sadistic part. Driven to the point of desperation and with the clock ticking, Will convinces Akerman's also-now-reformed character to go in with him on ... wait for it ... one last job. And it's in the particulars of this component that we get to the ridiculous.
There are some not-bad bits that are well-staged by director Simon West, including one that answers the burning question "How far will Nic Cage go to answer a cellphone within eight rings?" And the New Orleans locations are, as they say, evocative. But the script, by David Guggenheim, is sufficiently tired that it actually has one of the characters praising Will Montgomery's "skills." To which Liam Neeson might respond, "Excuse me, but I was in that movie."
Glenn Kenny is chief film critic for MSN Movies. He was the chief film
critic for Premiere magazine from 1998 to 2007. He contributes to various
publications and websites, and blogs at http://somecamerunning.typepad.com. He
lives in Brooklyn.