The Movie Waffler New Release Review - <i>The Art of the Steal</i> | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review - The Art of the Steal

A daredevil stunt rider reteams with his old criminal gang for one last job.

Directed by: Jonathan Sobol
Starring: Jay Baruchel, Katheryn Winnick, Kurt Russell, Matt Dillon, Terence Stamp, Kenneth Welsh

The Art of the Steal follows the typical heist formula where the crew is introduced mid-heist, highlighting what each character brings to the operation, while also showing how the characters interact with each other. After getting pinched, Nicky avoids jail time by rolling over on his brother, Crunch. After doing his time, Crunch becomes a daredevil, eking out very little money for death defying stunts, before he decides to team up with the old crew for one last job. The rest of the film then follows each character as they work their individual angles to double and triple cross each other in order to out-smart the others to get to their own bottom line.
Sounds pretty simple right? The film as a whole is pretty generic, aside from a couple of twists and turns that are obvious once they happen, because they seem to try way too hard to do the opposite of what the audience expects. Sadly, instead of building exciting new characters for the actors to cut their teeth on, the filmmakers seem far more interested in seeing these actors in a heist film in the vein of The Usual Suspects. Honestly, the whole casting becomes a sort of double edged sword because the actors nail their characters that are tailored specifically for them, but the down side is the characters become stale because we have all seen these characters in the actors' previous films.
Getting past all of these things, the film is actually pretty good. The soundtrack is catchy in a Tarantino way that it helps make the characters and/or the situation they are in feel more badass. Obviously these actors are marquee names for a reason, they are good at what they do, and here is no exception. Russell is the grizzled tough guy just trying to get through his own life. Dillon is the manipulative fast talker that always has an ulterior motive. Baruchel is that awkward, funny friend that you can always rely on to do his best to help, yet still always sort of make things harder for himself. And so on and so forth to the point that when everyone is together, they mesh in an interesting and, more importantly, entertaining way.
Ultimately, it is the interaction of these great actors, who bring more to the screen than is on the page, that makes this so entertaining and engrossing. Perhaps the filmmakers are sort of geniuses in their casting choices here, because they know that the familiar faces have a past for the audience already; so instead of putting in a ton of character work, they relied on our prior relationship with them to do that work for them. With every film I watch, the importance of substance over entertainment and vice versa changes, based on a combination of my expectations and what ends up on screen; and this is a fundamentally generic, and maybe lazy, film that is still entertaining.

Andy Comer