Release Date: 14-Mar-2014 (USA); also VOD
Length: 90 minutes
With: Kurt Russell, Matt Dillon and Jay Baruchel
“People are predictable” is a main theme of The Art of the Steal. Sadly, it also represents the plot of this movie. This film adds nothing new to the heist genre and borrows, or steals, to use a bad pun, heavily from flicks that truly captured the fun-factor that movies of this type should have.
The story itself isn’t a bad one, just terribly predictable. It starts off with a group of thieves getting caught and the leader of the group, Crunch Calhoun (Kurt Russell), being sentenced to seven years in a Polish prison. After five years, he is released from prison for good behavior and reboots the daredevil career he gave up to become a robber. His brother Nicky (Matt Dillon), who was responsible for ratting out Crunch to save his own neck, shows back up with an offer to get the old gang back together for one last big score involving a rare Gutenberg printed book. At that point, there are some twists and turns, none of which are very surprising or interesting.
There are no real memorable performances in this movie. Kurt Russell seemed to have fun here, but must have taken acting classes from the William Shatner School of Ham prior to accepting this role. Jay Baruchel does a bad Jay Baruchel impersonation. However, to be fair, he does provide some of the film’s only laughs in some amusing scenes with an Interpol agent played by Jason Jones. Character actor Chris Diamantopoulos also has some shining moments here, but the overall cast just doesn’t gel. There is no feeling of comradery like there is with the crews in the Oceansmovies.
It isn’t quite clear if The Art of the Steal is attempting to pay tribute to similar movies or make fun of them. It didn’t succeed in either, coming off as too jokey to be an homage and too serious to be a spoof. The over-stylized look of the film is enough to make Guy Ritchie’s eyes roll. The selection of locations and backgrounds (many in the lovely Hamilton, Ontario, Canada area) as well as the use of vibrant colors were spot on, making the film at least nice to look at.
The Art of the Steal is just a watered-down version of an episode of Leverage. In fact, you’d be better served watching the earlier seasons of that on Netflix than spending time with this film.