The Tao of Nicolas Cage: ‘Stolen’

By  · Published on March 24th, 2017

Cage re-teams with Simon West. Do they create more magic?

“I’m not the squirrel playing with his nuts here.”

This week I decided I wanted to check out a newer-ish Cage movie that I hadn’t yet seen. After sifting through the few Cage movies I’ve missed over the last fives years I finally landed on Stolen.

Stolen is a 2012 film that pairs Cage back up with director Simon West. You may recall that back in 1997 Cage starred in West’s directional debut, a masterpiece of a film called Con Air. These two getting back together is something I’m entirely on board with. Why it took me five years to finally get to Stolen I’ll never understand.

Cage stars as Will Montgomery, a notorious thief specializing in bank robberies. While he and his crew are in the middle of a heist that will net them $10 million, Will and his partner Vincent (Josh Lucas) get into a disagreement. The argument is about whether or not they should kill a janitor. Vincent wants to but Will does what he can to stop him and eventually Vincent gets shot in the leg.

Vincent gets in the van with the rest of their crew but during the chaos Will drops the money. As Will goes back to get the money his crew leaves him behind for the police to pick up. Will won’t go down without a fight, however, and quickly steals a police car. The chase is on.

Will certainly puts up a fight but eventually he’s captured and tossed into jail. Flash forward to eight years later and Will is released from prison. The first thing he wants to do is visit his now teenage daughter, Alison (Sami Gayle). Before visiting her he picks her up a stuffed teddy bear in what I assume is a slight nod to Con Air.

Will tries hard and means well but Alison isn’t interested. And can you blame her? Poor girl has abandonment issues!

Despite her concerns, Alison hears Will out for a bit but eventually storms off and leaves in a cab. Little do they know at the time but that cab happens to be driven by Vincent. At this point Vincent is missing a leg, missing some fingers and has faked his death. He blames Will for ruining his life and has waited eight years to get his revenge. He plans on doing so by kidnapping Alison.

Stolen didn’t do great at the box office. According to Box Office Mojo the film opened domestically in 144 theaters and only lasted two weeks stateside, pulling in just over $300k. That’s not very good. In fact it’s very, very bad. But these box offices numbers do not reflect the quality of the film.

Stolen is a really fun movie. It’s not Con Air good, but then again Con Air is one of the greatest action movies ever. Cage and West could team up a hundred more times and would very likely never make another movie as good as Con Air. But that’s a testament to Con Air more than anything else. Stolen is a completely different type of action movie but still very enjoyable.

The whole time I was watching Stolen I couldn’t help but think it would have been incredibly successful in another era. If this same exact movie is released in 1998 with Cage in the lead role it’s a box office hit. Cage was huge then and this is exactly the type of movie people loved him for. And the performance from Josh Lucas is a throwback to that time period as well. His portrayal of Vincent is way over-the-top and totally harkens back to the villains from 90’s action movies.

Going back even further Stolen has this almost 70’s vibe to it. There’s a pulpy-thriller thing going on. It feels like the type of thing Michael Caine or Elliot Gould would have starred in. And I 100% mean that as a compliment.

Cage and Lucas balance one another perfectly. Lucas definitely goes bigger in this film while Cage plays it a bit more reserved. He still has the moments where he kicks it up a notch, but by and large he’s more on the subtle side this time out. Oh and he runs a lot which is just interesting.

Up to this point West’s career has sort of been all over the place but there’s no denying that he knows how to direct action. The opening chase sequence is fantastic. When it comes to staging and shooting action scenes he clearly knows what he’s doing.

“I’m not an ace driver by any stretch of the imagination,” Cage explains on the Blu-ray special features, indicating he may have done some of his own stunt driving, “but I’ve done it long enough now that I’m a good driver and I have an intuition for it.”

Beyond the car chase stuff there is a bunch other cool practical stunt work. I don’t think there’s a second of CGI in this movie. Not that the movie is overflowing with practical effects and stunts, but there are some really great moments. And while the actors did all have stunt doubles, it appears they all went as far with their own stunts as they could.

“When we talk about stunts,” Cage continued, “I say this with caution because I never want to tempt fate, but you know I work well with fire. I’m not afraid of fire. So I’m able to get in there and work with it because I have respect for it but I’m not afraid of it.”

Nicolas Cage respects fire. Remember that the next time you try and disrespect fire.

The fire scene is actually really rad. It comes in the big finale and you can definitely see the respect Cage has for the fire. The scene unfolds at the abandoned Six Flags New Orleans theme park, which is an awesome location for an action movie’s final showdown. If you’re not familiar with this abandoned theme park I suggest doing a quick Google image search.

The most shocking thing to me about Stolen is the fact that it took Cage and West 15 years to get back together on a project. They clearly work well together and they appear to enjoy working with each other. In the behind-the-scenes footage Cage praised West saying, “I would say yes to Simon on almost anything because I feel that he’s one of the best directors I’ve ever worked with. He’s a gentleman and an artist.”

If you like West that much then do more movies with him, Cage! It’s now been five years since Stolen was released. Hopefully we don’t have to wait another 10 years for this director/actor duo to pair up again. I can’t wait that long!

Stolen has moments that range from silly to flat out ridiculous. There’s a scene involving gold being melted and stolen that I’m not quite sure I buy at all. And there are some moments of dialogue that feel like they’re trying really hard to be witty and clever. In the grand scheme of things these are very minor flaws. Stolen checks all the boxes I’m looking for in a thrilling heist film. And most importantly of all, its further proof that Cage still has it.

“Any time you get to work with an actor of Nic Cage’s caliber you jump at that opportunity. And the reality is there’s only a few actors on Earth who I put up on Nic’s category. I mean he’s one of the true greats.” – Josh Lucas on Nicolas Cage

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Chris Coffel is a contributor at Film School Rejects. He’s a connoisseur of Christmas horror, a Nic Cage fanatic, and bad at Rocket League. He can be found on Twitter here: @Chris_Coffel. (He/Him)