The Art of the Steal review: steal from the best

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The Art of the Steal green light Kenneth Welsh Kurt Russell Jay Baruchel

One of the most fun heist movies ever, bursting with snappy humor and a twisty cleverness that knows that you know that you are getting conned as much as the mark onscreen.
I’m “biast” (pro): nothing

I’m “biast” (con): nothing

(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)

Oh, I do love a heist movie. And this is one of the most fun heist movies ever, clearly modeled — and successfully so — on Soderbergh’s Ocean’s Eleven in its smart, snappy humor and its twisty cleverness that knows that you know that you are getting conned as much as the mark onscreen, and that you are hoping to be fooled as much as possible, because the more you’re fooled, the more fun it is. Writer-director Jonathan Sobol pulls it off, beautifully and wittily. Maybe it’s not quite as endlessly uproarious as Ocean’s Eleven, but still: I laughed out loud more than once, and I’m still chuckling over it. The hilariously named Crunch Calhoun (Kurt Russell: Death Proof) is out of the art thieving business — he was the motorcycle wheel man in his little gang — since a job in Warsaw stealing a Gauguin went wrong, and now he does an Evel Knievel act and takes dives for extra cash; the spectators always like a good crash, after all. But when his brother and former partner in crime, Nicky (Matt Dillon: Girl Most Likely), turns up in town — the guys fell out over Warsaw — and news of an irresistible job falls into their laps, they’re on the job again. See, there’s this old book, The Gospel of James, the second thing Gutenberg printed after his Bible, and it’s just sitting in Canadian customs at the border crossing to Detroit, awaiting authentication as the one stolen from a museum in Amsterdam. It’s not going to be easy, though, because they’re being watched by an Interpol agent (Jason Jones: Pitch Perfect), who’s being aided by a former compatriot of theirs (Terence Stamp: Song for Marion), in return for time off his sentence. From the opening gambit of the Warsaw job, with its fast, funny, tense action, and all the real objets getting swapped out for fakes, this is a hugely entertaining shell game of a flick with endlessly entertaining performances; the cast also features a snarky Jay Baruchel (RoboCop) as Crunch’s “apprentice” and Chris Diamantopoulos (The Three Stooges) as the gang’s French forger. Don’t miss it.

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Thu, Mar 06, 2014 10:43pm

Even though there are basically no women involved? That’s something that generally puts me off a film, though of course it depends on context.

MaryAnn Johanson
reply to  RogerBW
Thu, Mar 06, 2014 11:14pm

There’s a girlfriend with a small part, and another girlfriend with an even smaller part, as per usual with this sort of flick.

It’s still worth watching.