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Review: Theo James and Emily Ratajkowski spark glossy noirish ‘Lying and Stealing’

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Theo James and Emily Ratajkowski in the movie “Lying and Stealing.”
(Katrina Marcinowski / Vertical Entertainment)

The jaunty, neo-noirish crime outing “Lying and Stealing” has its moments — chiefly the engaging performances of sexy leads Theo James and Emily Ratajkowski — but is too short on depth and logic to prove much more than a glossy, forgettable trifle.

James (of the “Divergent” film trilogy) plays Ivan, a skilled, if conflicted art thief trying to work off his late father’s huge gambling debt to the ruthless Dimitri (Fred Melamed); a few more heists and Ivan’s out of the game. Supposedly.

Enter the also-slippery Elyse (Ratajkowski), an aspiring actress Ivan meets at a tony book-signing party, the site of his latest theft. Elyse, who (long story) owes a bundle to a slimy film producer, sees in Ivan a kindred spirit, and their paths continue to cross. That is, until she uses her thespian chops — and feminine wiles — to help Ivan pull off a twisty caper that will settle both their scores.

Unfortunately, the film, slickly directed by Matt Aselton, from a script he penned with Adam Nagata (they also cowrote Aselton’s helming debut, 2008’s enjoyably quirky “Gigantic”), features too many surface conflicts and characters; what does making Ivan’s brother (Ebon Moss-Bachrach) bipolar buy us?

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Still, James has star power, Ratajkowski offers nimble support, and there are a few amusing throwaway bits.

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‘Lying and Stealing’

Rated: R, for language, some sexual content/nudity, violence and drug use

Running time: 1 hour, 40 minutes

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Playing: Starts July 12, Laemmle Monica Film Center, Santa Monica; also on DirecTV

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