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"The Art of the Steal" Review

Slick, amusing and utterly unmemorable; that's The Art of the Steal  - not to be confused with the excellent 2009 documentary of the same name about how Philadelphia and Pennsylvanian politicians conspired to confiscate a multi-billion collection of art - a comedic caper flick filled with colorful cartoonish characters capering around the world. It won't make you regret watching it, just as long as you have no expectations going in. (There's some advert copy!)

It opens with Kurt Russell being shown to his cell in a Polish prison before flashing back three days to explain how he get there in the first place as a convoluted art heist going sideways led to his half-brother Matt Dillon ratting him out. (From arrest to conviction is only 2 days in Poland?!?) 5-1/2 years later, Russell gets out and is working as a discount Evel Knievel, deliberately crashing his bike for an extra $800 at the behest of the promoter. As if that's not bad enough, Dillon has been screwing over new accomplices and when one of them comes after Russell, he decides it's time to get the band back together for an ultra-complex heist of a mythical book locked up in an impenetrable Customs facility in Niagara Falls. Hijinks ensue.

With all the obligatory double-crosses and what not the plot is a jumbled mess of contrivances and counter-scams, but it goes down easily thanks to a a game cast that also includes Jay Baruchel and Terrance Stamp. It's also very striking in its production design, art direction and the way writer-director Jonathan Sobol shoots and edits the action. It's a great-looking movie with good performances and a decent amount of laughs like when Dillon is pickpocketing people including a little girl, but not particularly worth hunting down. It's the very definition of "watch it if it happens to be on while you're flipping channels.

Score: 5/10. Catch it on cable. (It's currently on Netflix.)


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