Art thief-turned-daredevil rider Crunch (Kurt Russell) — fresh from prison, having been burned by his weaselly partner-in-crime half-brother Nicky (Matt Dillon) — wants nothing more to do with heists. Yeah, right.
"The Art of the Steal" is another Last Big Job concoction, albeit one in which writer-director Jonathan Sobol doubles down against staleness by stuffing his cast with appealing character actors who know their way around a profane quip (Terence Stamp, Jay Baruchel, Chris Diamantopoulos, Kenneth Welsh, Jason Jones) while jacking up the visual tricks: split screens, animation, monochromatic shots with carefully chosen objects in primary colors.
It tries too hard, sure, but at least it tries. (Not in the gender department, though: Katheryn Winnick is the only female cast member, and she's upstaged by a much-joked-about gynecological art sculpture.)
Russell's grizzled flair and Dillon's chiseled sliminess make for nice opposing forces as an elaborate plan takes shape to swipe, copy and fence a long-thought-mythical, Gutenberg-printed fifth gospel. But like most scam romps these days, the plotting is needlessly complicated, and the payoff twist is predictable.
The actors give it punch, but in the grand scheme of caper comedies, "The Art of the Steal" is more breathlessly imitative than authentic.
"The Art of the Steal." MPAA rating: R for language, including sexual references. Running time: 1 hour, 30 minutes. At Laemmle's Monica 4 in Santa Monica, NoHo 7 in North Hollywood and Playhouse 7 in Pasadena.
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