Thursday, March 30, 2017

Stolen (2012)

Year 9, Day 89 - 3/30/17 - Movie #2,583

BEFORE: Sometimes doing what I do - planning my viewing schedule according to actor linking AND the calendar - isn't easy, especially when it comes to trying to predict what's going to be added to the list when, which by itself is nearly impossible.  How can I possibly know when a film's going to be sold to HBO or Showtime, and then when that channel is going to run it?  But over the course of 8 years watching the TV listings, I've developed something of a "sixth sense" about it.  Like, my chain right now has me covered until May 10 or 11, and then it just stops flat.  But that's a few days before Mother's Day, and there was a film last year about that very holiday - now, it would make sense for some channel to start running that film and take advantage of the holiday tie-in, but that doesn't mean that is certain to happen.  With the addition of one film, though, which I could easily watch on iTunes or Amazon Prime, I do know a way that I can extend my chain at least another three days and also watch "Mother's Day" if I choose.  Sure enough, Showtime's going to start running it this weekend, so even though the movie's probably crap, it helps extend my chain.  I also may need it to pair with something else to fill up a DVD, you never know.  Plus, from there I can link to "Money Monster" and then "Hail, Caesar!" which are currently near the bottom of my list in the "Currently Unlinkable" file.

Another example, I just recorded and added "Our Brand Is Crisis", and another Sandra Bullock movie to go with it, "28 Days".  The first film also has Billy Bob Thornton in it, which will probably place it on the watchlist next to "Whiskey Tango Foxtrot", also currently languishing near the bottom of the list.  But this makes be think about "Bad Santa 2", and I wonder if that will run on premium cable as we get closer to Christmas - so in my mind, I think I need to save the two films with Billy Bob for December, just in case.  It's a bit like doing a jigsaw puzzle, but leaving a hole for a piece that you lost, but still hope to find later when you clean the floor.

And while it's easy to link between films with the same big stars, it's a little harder when I have to resort to character actors, or people in minor roles.  I had the occasion to look back on some of my posts from 2014, and there was a LOT of indirect linking - Star A from Monday's film once co-starred with Star B from Tuesday's film.  I guess I thought maybe my linking was running out - but then I started using the filters function on IMDB to search my own watchlist for nearly every name, and it made my linking much more thorough.  As a result, my 2017 chain so far has had only ONE indirect link since January 1.  I'm proud of that, and thankful to the actors without star billing who made that possible - like today, an actor named Marcus Lyle Brown carries over from "Hot Pursuit", where he played "Lou" - who could forget that performance?


THE PLOT: A former thief frantically searches for his missing daughter, who has been kidnapped and locked in the trunk of a taxi.

AFTER: In appearance and name, this would seem to be Nicolas Cage's take on the Liam Neeson series "Taken" - for some reason, Hollywood has been led to believe that the audience will root for a thief, murderer or other anti-hero type provided that they are being forced by an outside party to do these bad things, and that there's an over-arching reason, like saving someone close to them, to get pulled "back into the game".  "The Forger" with John Travolta is another example - his character was forced to commit art forgery and theft, but he was being coerced, and doing it for his dying son.

So, as with last night's film, there's a definite formula.  For comparison, look at a film like "Collateral", where Tom Cruise played a hit-man eliminating witnesses - very hard to root for him, but you can root for Jamie Foxx as the cabbie driving him around, because he's being coerced to assist with this criminal activity.

So here Cage plays a master thief, a safecracker and leader of a team that includes a security expert, a female getaway driver and another guy (the muscle? his role is a little unclear...).  The opening heist sequence sets up the anti-hero and his morals (he won't kill during the heist) and the rivalry with both the FBI agent who's tracking the gang, and the team member who is injured, to set up the revenge plot in the second half.  There's a car chase with some things I haven't seen before, like getting the maximum amount of excitement from a parking garage, and then Cage's character ends up nicked. (Get it?)

After 8 years in prison, he tries to put his life back together and reconnect with his daughter, though his wife has moved on to another relationship.  Putting the old team back together is another non-starter, and he's still being watched by that FBI agent, who thinks he stashed the stolen money and will make a play to retrieve it.  But everything changes when his daughter is kidnapped and stashed in the trunk of a cab driven by a figure from his past.  Now he has to learn how to be a protective father, possibly for the first time, and try convince the FBI that he's really the victim here, not a guy trying to put his robbery team back together or to collect the money that he stashed away.  And wouldn't you know it, there's a tight timeline for getting it all done.

Oh, and wouldn't you know it, it just happens to be Mardi Gras time in New Orleans, giving the plot a reason for there to be traffic whenever an obstacle needs to be put in his way.  I'm not sure if this is a NITPICK POINT or not - I've never been there, does the whole town shut down for this celebration or not?  Because, like, it's a holiday for them, but it's also a Tuesday, right?  So do some people (FBI agents, psychiatrists) still just go about their business on that day?

Also starring Nicolas Cage (last seen in "Vampire's Kiss"), Josh Lucas (last seen in "Poseidon"), Danny Houston (last seen in "Big Eyes"), Malin Ackerman (last seen in "The Invasion"), Sami Gayle (last seen in "Noah"), Mark Valley (last heard in "Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 2"), M.C. Gainey (last seen in "Starman"), Barry Shabaka Henley (last seen in "The Big Year"), J.D. Evermore (last seen in "Wild"), Dan Braverman, Jon Eyez (last seen in "Focus").

RATING: 4 out of 10 parade floats

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