HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Invisible Man, The
Honey Boy
System Crasher
Judy & Punch
Bacurau
Battling Butler
Vivarium
Seven Chances
Dogs Don't Wear Pants
Navigator, The
Knives Out
Hit!
Charlie's Angels
Passport to Shame
Le Mans '66
Keep Fit
Doctor Sleep
Friend or Foe
Brass Target
Mine and the Minotaur, The
Sky Pirates
Syncopation
Sea Children, The
Ghost of a Chance, A
Go Kart Go
Great Buster, The
Seventy Deadly Pills
Wings of Mystery
Treasure at the Mill
VFW
Crime Wave
Terminator: Dark Fate
Slithis
Antonio Gaudi
Oscar, The
Color Out of Space
Last Holiday
Zombieland: Double Tap
Mind Benders, The
Mighty Wind, A
   
 
Newest Articles
Put the Boot In: Villain on Blu-ray
The Children's Film Foundation Bumper Box Vol. 2: Vic Pratt Interview
All the Lonely People: Sunday Bloody Sunday on Blu-ray
Desperate Characters: Beat the Devil on Blu-ray
Chansons d'Amour: Alfie Darling on Blu-ray
Ozploitation Icon: Interview with Roger Ward
Godzilla Goes to Hollywood
Demy-Wave: The Essential Jacques Demy on Blu-ray
The Makings of a Winner: Play It Cool! on Blu-ray
Sony Channel's Before They Were Famous: A Galaxy of Stars
Start Worrying and Hate the Bomb: Fail-Safe on Blu-ray
Completely Different: Monty Python's Flying Circus Series 2 on Blu-ray
Bash Street Kid: Cosh Boy on Blu-ray
Seeing is Believing: Being There on Blu-ray
Top Thirty Best (and Ten Worst) Films of the 2010s by Andrew Pragasam
Top of the Tens: The Best Films of the Decade by Graeme Clark
Terrorvision: A Ghost Story for Christmas in the 1970s
Memories Are Made of This: La Jetee and Sans Soleil on Blu-ray
Step Back in Time: The Amazing Mr. Blunden on Blu-ray
Crazy Cats and Kittens: What's New Pussycat on Blu-ray
No Place Like Home Guard: Dad's Army - The Lost Episodes on Blu-ray
A Real-Life Pixie: A Tribute to Michael J. Pollard in Four Roles
We're All In This Together: The Halfway House on Blu-ray
Please Yourselves: Frankie Howerd and The House in Nightmare Park on Blu-ray
Cleesed Off: Clockwise on Blu-ray
   
 
  Art of the Steal, The A little larceny goes a long way
Year: 2013
Director: Jonathan Sobol
Stars: Kurt Russell, Matt Dillon, Jay Baruchel, Kenneth Welsh, Chris Diamantopoulos, Katheryn Winnick, Jason Jones, Terence Stamp, Devon Bostick, Elle Downs, Dax Ravina
Genre: Comedy, ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: An art heist gone wrong lands ageing thief Crunch Calhoun (Kurt Russell) in a tough Polish prison when he is betrayed by his untrustworthy brother Nicky (Matt Dillon). Five years later he is out of jail and ekes out a living as a third-rate motorcycle daredevil aided by his loyal apprentice Francis (Jay Baruchel) and much younger but far shrewder girlfriend Lola (Katheryn Winnick). When Crunch gets attacked by an angry thug over a misunderstanding, he realizes Nicky is back in town and planning an even bigger heist. Against his better judgement, Crunch brings Francis and Lola into a scheme reuniting his original team, including wily Uncle Paddy (Kenneth Welsh) and French art forger Guy de Cornet (Chris Diamantopoulos), to steal a priceless historical book. However, not only has hot-tempered Interpol Agent Brick (Jason Jones) enlisted imprisoned art thief Samuel Winter (Terence Stamp) to help catch them in the act but it becomes clear there is more to this scam than meets the eye.

Heist movies, of the more fanciful than grittier variety, enjoyed a major revival in the wake of the huge global success of Steven Soderbergh's superior remake of Ocean's Eleven (2001). Having said that let's give the devil his due and admit Guy Ritchie played a big part in re-popularizing the genre. Since then heist movies lapsed into endlessly replaying the same familiar clichés to the point where television shows like the British-made Hustle and the American Leverage get away with rehashing the same basic plot every week. For his second feature film following A Beginner's Guide to Endings (2010), a comedy-drama with J.K. Simmons and Harvey Keitel, Canadian writer-director Jonathan Sobel ticks all the heist movie boxes without trying anything radically new. But as far as box-ticking goes, The Art of the Steal is handsomely crafted and solidly entertaining, bolstered by the lively playing of a strong ensemble cast and Sobel's assured visual sense.

“The real currency in the world ain't money, it's trust. If you've got no trust, what have you got?” ponders our splendidly named anti-hero Crunch Calhoun in his opening monologue. Never afraid to play the lovable loser or act his age, Kurt Russell invests a disarming degree of pathos in his portrayal of the bruised, battered but still bold stunt cyclist dreaming of one last big score. Crunch signs up for Nicky's audacious scam not because he wants the money but because his life's ambition was to make history. He wants to know his life has been worthwhile. Although Sobel fumbles the ambiguous suspense of whether Lola is also playing Crunch for a sucker, which ought to underline the central theme, the film gains a layer of poignancy through its depiction of old men full of regret and broken dreams. At one point Terence Stamp, priceless as world-weary police informant Winter, delivers a moving monologue about the allure of art. It is one of several charming character touches that compensate for the odd incidental flaw.

Sobel's lively script has all the fast patter and grifter lingo familiar from a dozen other movies and TV shows. All the familiar heist movie elements are accounted for: the team of misfits with special skills, the elaborate plan that seems certain to fail, the split screen detailing multiple actions simultaneously, the post-heist run of double and triple-crosses. Yet Sobel adds a few idiosyncratic flourishes including a bike chase through the subway in a nod to Diva (1981), the amusing use of a giant vaginal-shaped sculpture as a Trojan Horse and Francis' hapless attempt to sneak across the border with two wanted criminals hiding in his car which ends with him discussing the merits of Predator 2 (1990) with the border guard! Perhaps the standout sequence is a flashback story-within-a-story about the theft of the Mona Lisa done in the style of an old silent movie complete with Georges Méliès style flourishes and the cast playing different roles. Performances are engaging across the board with Russell and Dillon (so crooked he lifts a wallet off a nine year old girl in broad daylight!) equally charismatic. In a decidedly male-centric film Kathryn Winnick is sadly underused by comparison with the opportunities Jay Baruchel, Jason Jones and Chris Diamantopoulos have to etch likeable comic characters. If the climax is less mind-blowing than the filmmakers think it is still a fun ride getting there. Lovable rogues, snappy dialogue, pacy action, Katheryn Winnick in a Vegas showgirl outfit. Good times.

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

This review has been viewed 1240 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star is the best at shouting?
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Brian Blessed
Tiffany Haddish
Steve Carell
Olivia Colman
Captain Caveman
Sylvester Stallone
Gerard Butler
Samuel L. Jackson
Bipasha Basu
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Darren Jones
  Butch Elliot
Andrew Pragasam
  Rachel Franke
Enoch Sneed
Paul Smith
Paul Shrimpton
   

 

Last Updated: