The Art of the Steal

The Art of the Steal poster - Kurt RussellDirector: Jonathan Sobol

Writer: Jonathan Sobol

Cast: Kurt Russell, Matt Dillon, Jay Baruchel, Terence Stamp, Kenneth Welsh, Katheryn Winnick

Cert: 15

Running time: 90mins

Year: 2013

 

 

The lowdown: Modest, agreeable crime caper with the evergreen Kurt Russell as the wheelman in a crew of art thieves and conmen led up by half-brother Matt Dillon. Years after a betrayal sees Russell doing hard jail time, Dillon returns, with one last job that will put them all on easy street. But, can he be trusted? Environmentally conscious in the way it recycles plot and characters from The Sting, Jackie Brown, and even 21, the steal is still done with no small amount of artistry. Even if the title itself is nicked from the name of Catch Me If You Can inspiration Frank Abagnale’s autobiography.

Art of the Steal - Kurt Russell, Jay BaruchelArt of the Steal - Matt Dillon

The full verdict: Kurt Russell has likeability hardwired into his DNA. He’s never better than when rough, schlubby and against the odds and here he provides the full hat trick.

Plus his character name, “Crunch” Calhoun, takes its place alongside other memorable Russell back catalogue nomenclature, including “Snake” Plissken, “Mac” MacReady, Stuntman Mike, Steve Stronghold, and er, Wyatt Earp and Elvis Presley.

He is joined by a cast with more star wattage than writer/director Jonathan Sobol’s script deserves, but all involved enter the bouncy, frothy mood making this an easy night out you won’t feel scammed paying for.

Although Baruchel, who made such personable leading man splashes in She’s Out of My League and The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, disappointingly seems to have slipped back into supporting character goofs.

An opening race against time hustle involving a bait and switch forged masterpiece proves Sobol can handle an action set-piece, but he enjoys himself most plotting out intricate crosses, bluffs and double-bluffs, all with a comedic wink.

And, unlike last year’s preposterous Now You See Me, the mechanics of The Art of the Steal’s scam just about hold together.

Not vintage for anyone involved, but Russell alone is worth 90 minutes of your time. Now saddle up quick for The Hateful Eight, Kurt…

Rob Daniel