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The Art of the Steal


Now you’ve seen it – ★★½

The Art of the Steal is one of those films that you’re likely to see on DVD or Blu-ray in a bargain basket in a petrol-station in three years time and go… “oh yeah, I saw that. It was grand!”. This isn’t actually meant as a massive insult to the film, it’s just hard to say that it’s in any way original or memorable.

Canadian director Jonathan Sobol’s film is a heist movie about an old gang of art thieves who reunite after Kurt Russell’s “Crunch Calhoun” completes a jail sentence. He went to jail because his brother Nicky (Matt Dillon) dobbed him in to save his own skin. Also in the gang are Jay Baruchel, Chris Diamantopoulos and the inexplicably-Irish-accented Kenneth Welsh (the begorrah-begosh is fun at first but tires quickly). Russell and Dillon have great energy and chemistry but you suspect they’re really just involved as another late-career pay-day.

You’ll know (and probably feel comfortable) with the style of the film. It’s an Oceans-lite heist which is a style that’s nearly starting to grate with me, but is evidently doing well considering the massive success of last year’s Now You See Me. It’s got the snazzy on-screen graphics, the sub-David Holmes soundtrack and the double-crosses and clever editing to hide how the heist actually went down until the big “rewind” and reveal. This is all competently done though and you’re unlikely to find a massive amount of fault other than the fact that we’ve seen it all before. Thank God Steven Soderbergh moved on from this kind of fare – it’s just a pity we can’t have more caper heist films that feel more inclined to pay homage to and evolve from the likes of The Score (2001) or Inside Man (2006).

The Art of the Steal is a Canadian film and anyone who has travelled around the Southern Ontario region will enjoy the nods to the weather, the Niagara Falls border, incompetent Canadian police and the country’s lax security when compared to the 50 US states that surround it.

There’s really nothing wrong with The Art of the Steal, it’s just hard to sell it as anything other than a perfectly fine film with a strong cast who do the job but are never really challenged. Ideal stuff for a movie night or a long-haul flight.

Released across Ireland on June 20th 2014

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Nigel loves stupid films almost as much as he likes clever films. He'll watch anything but is usually drawn to documentaries, North American independent films, Irish cinema and gung-ho, balls-to-the-walls Hollywood blockbusters. Here's what he's been watching.