On Demand Weekly provides new movie reviews of hot movies on demand from the POV of watching from the comfort of your home. Today’s review: THE ART OF THE STEAL (The Weinstein Company).
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THE ART OF THE STEAL
By Joe Charnitski
One of my favorite sub-genres of movies is the “bunch of guys get together and plan a job” genre. Quentin Tarantino twisted and redefined it in RESERVOIR DOGS. Steve McQueen helped turned it into a western in THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN (itself a remake of Kurosawa’s classic SEVEN SAMURAI) and into a World War II anti-Nazi adventure in THE GREAT ESCAPE. These films are usually beefed up with macho bravado, peppered with twists and double-crosses and generally sauced in a thick sense of cool.
A heist is often at the core of these films, and the band of brothers who have joined for the mission are not usually mild mannered choir boys. In recent history, Soderbergh’s OCEAN’S ELEVEN (and its ill begotten sequels) is the archetype for this type of picture. It’s probably also the distant cousin of the new indie comedy THE ART OF THE STEAL. The film, starring Kurt Russell and Matt Dillon as half-brothers and full partners in an art theft ring, fills its soundtrack with slick songs and packs the screen with smooth transitions, hoping to create that atmosphere of cool.
Russell plays Crunch Calhoun, the getaway man and expert motorcyclist in the gang, who, when we first meet him, is about to enter a Polish prison for a stay of five years. Dillon plays Nicky Calhoun, the idea man who has flourished financially in the years his brother spent behind bars.
We quickly learn what led to Crunch’s incarceration and soon after join him as he returns to life as a free man, and a stunt man, performing motorcycle tricks at monster truck shows. It isn’t long before the half-brothers are reunited and, as Crunch would say, fate presents them an opportunity to get the gang back together for an opportunity at making history.
These kinds of cool crime comedies are a lot like romantic comedies:
you pretty much know how things will turn out for these characters, you just hope the trip is fun along the way, and the details of the destination make it worth traveling for. Generally, THE ART OF THE STEAL succeeds on both counts. The film does look and feel slick, with cinematography, editing and music humming along at a precise pace.
It also earns some laughs, and here I have to make special note of a side story involving Jason Jones (“The Daily Show”) and Terence Stamp, a standout in the cast. Jones plays an ambitious and temperamental Interpol officer who’s working with a former thief turned informant played by Stamp. For me, Stamp will always be General Zod (SUPERMAN, SUPERMAN II) and though more soft spoken in this film, his presence is just as impressive. He and Jones are such a fine comedy team, I can’t help but wish I was watching a film centered on their relationship.
Some of the geographical jumps in the story are jarring and not all of the plot’s complexities seem necessary, but by the time the journey of THE ART OF THE STEAL brings you to your destination, I think you’ll find it worth the trip.
Joe Charnitski is a new contributing writer to On Demand Weekly. His career in film and television production, development and marketing has included stops at Miramax Films, Syfy and VH1. He currently works at a entertainment focused social media marketing agency in New York City. Twitter:@JoeCharnitski
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