At this point, it’s possible even Nicolas Cage can’t tell his movies apart, both because he makes so many of them, and because they’re so similar that they tend to bleed together. From the outside, they look borderline-identical, but there’s ultimately a big difference between the over-the-top awesomeness of the hilariously histrionic Drive Angry and the over-the-top awfulness of Ghost Rider: Spirit Of Vengeance. Or to cite a more germane example, there’s a large gap between the forgettable thriller-by-numbers sub-mediocrity of the recent New Orleans thriller Seeking Justice, and the memorable-for-all-the-wrong reasons New Orleans thriller Stolen.
Cage stars in Stolen as an accomplished career criminal who goes to jail for a long stretch following a heist-gone-awry that appears to leave partner Josh Lucas dead. But when he leaves prison, he discovers Lucas merely faked his own death. Mad for vengeance, Lucas has kidnapped Cage’s daughter and is keeping her in the trunk of his cab until Cage ponies up the $10 million stolen in the heist that sent Cage to jail. Cage doesn’t have the money anymore, so he’s forced to pull another heist to raise the funds, all under the watchful eye of cop Danny Huston.
As the supporting cast of the similar oddity Trespass can attest, acting opposite Cage in a shameless B-movie represents an irresistible invitation to overact. Stolen is distinguished and redeemed largely by Lucas’ exquisitely hammy, frothing-at-the-mouth craziness. With his ratty, dyed-blond hair, scraggly beard, and manic eyes, Lucas looks and acts like a cracked-out, one-legged Kurt Cobain who turned to crime and cab-driving after giving up on music. Lucas seems intent on out-crazying Cage in his own film; he succeeds with help from dialogue running the gamut from slangy to near-incomprehensible (“This is an ace boon swipe, Gum. There’s not another one of these in the headlights for a long while”) to hilariously pulpy. (“I was a golden boy, dollface! Now I’m a freaking Picasso!”) Meanwhile, Cage is uncharacteristically muted. He seems to have given up on making art long ago; these days, all he wants to do is entertain, and with Stolen, he succeeds, albeit only on the guilty-pleasure level. Like seemingly the sum of late-period Cage, Stolen is unashamedly cheese, but at least it’s cheese of a pungent, flavorful vintage.