The Art of the Steal Blu-ray Review

A couple of days ago I watched an interesting, enigmatic, stylized heist/con artist movie. Well, at least half of it was. No, it didn’t feature George Clooney, Brad Pitt, and 9 other guys in Vegas (or the abortion that was the second film), this flick actually stars Kurt Russell, Matt Dillon, and Jay Baruchel. This trio actually play pretty well off of each other for the majority of the film, but it isn’t enough to save the ultimately uneven mess that is the finished product. THE ART OF THE STEAL, a new and appropriately named movie from filmmaker Jonathan Sobol (A BEGINNER’S GUIDE TO ENDINGS, 2010), invests too much in style and lacks the substance needed to carry the audience along for the ride.

Kurt Russell and Jay Baruchel

THE ART OF THE STEAL is the story of one man, famed motorcycle stuntman and semi-reformed career criminal Crunch Calhoun (Kurt Russell). Following a job in which he was implicated by his brother-in-law Nicky (Matt Dillon), Crunch spends several years in an overseas prison. When he gets out he’s pretty much done with the world he left behind, now having a beautiful, young wife in the stunning Lola (The History Channel’s Katheryn Winnick) and a young apprentice named Francie (Baruchel) who both help him make ends meet by getting back into the motorcycle stunts a la Evel Knievel. But when Nicky double-crosses his new partner, Crunch is pulled back into the world of crime he thought he left behind.

Kenneth Welsh, Kurt Russell, Jay Baruchel, and Chris Diamantopoulos

Thank goodness this happens pretty quickly because these scenes of Crunch during his self-imposed exile are rife with dialogue that feels a lot like filler. You could forgive a few moments of this, perhaps, but it is really indicative of THE ART OF THE STEAL as a whole. The entire movie feels like something half-baked and not quite finished. The stylistic elements introduced early on by Sobol and company aren’t carried through the entire film, instead making strange and ultimately jarring cameos throughout the picture rather than being the foundation of the world they were trying to build.

Jay Baruchel and Kurt Russell

As someone who generally enjoys heist movies (even bad ones) I can see some great moments in THE ART OF THE STEAL. The problem is they are too few and far between in a 90 minute film that feels like a two and a half hour snoozer. Ultimately it isn’t that the movie is bad so much as it just doesn’t do anything really new or great. Even the interesting moments during the heist scenes feel more like we’re going through the motions than really being taken for a ride. It makes me sad because the elements are all there, the cast is surprisingly good, but they can’t all pull through a movie that in the end just feels plodding.


Video: (1080p Widescreen 2.40:1) The video presentation is very nice. THE ART OF THE STEAL is immersive and beautiful. Highly stylized, Sobol clearly had a vision in his head when he put this film together and it translates beautifully onto your HD television. Sadly it doesn’t move the story and changes several times during the film.

Audio: (English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1) The audio for THE ART OF THE STEAL is above average but there are times that the action and music drown out the dialogue. In a movie like this you really, really don’t want to miss the dialogue so you can piece together the story. A disappointment.

Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Jonathan Sobol and Producer Nicholas Tabarrok (01:30:14) An interesting commentary throughout, THE ART OF THE STEAL’s writer/director Sobol has an incredible enthusiasm for the movie and the genre and he gives some interesting insights. Bravo for including a second person though Tabarrok doesn’t add a whole lot of flavor.

Jason Jones and Terence Stamp

Doing the Crime: Making THE ART OF THE STEAL (29:36) A well produced high definition making of featurette goes in depth behind the scenes of THE ART OF THE STEAL. Director Sobol, who also wrote the screenplay, goes in depth into his process for putting together the story. He does give some context for the genre and style choices he makes in the film (which I didn’t love). The cast also adds a lot of engaging details to the process. This is a great complementary feature to THE ART OF THE STEAL and I highly recommend it if you enjoy the movie.

The Making of The Theft of the Mona Lisa (05:03) Another cool moment from the film was the highly stylized Mona Lisa story featuring our actors from THE ART OF THE STEAL. This one is pretty cool for a number of reasons but I don’t want to spoil the movie. You’ve got to check this one out!


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