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art_of_the_stealTHE ART OF THE STEAL
Written and Directed by Jonathan Sobol
Starring Kurt Russell, Matt Dillon and Jay Baruchel

Crunch: If you got no trust, then what do you got?

In Canadian writer-director Jonathan Sobel’s heist film, THE ART OF THE STEAL, his second film after THE BEGINNER’S GUIDE TO ENDINGS, Kurt Russell and Matt Dillon play brothers Crunch and Nicky Calhoun. After being betrayed by his brother, Crunch is sent to prison. Seven years later, Crunch is released from prison and is making money as a motorcycle daredevil, always willing to take a wipeout if it can get him a couple of extra dollars. Tired of making a show of himself, Crunch decides to get back into the heist game. After reluctantly making up with his brother, Crunch gets a crew together, featuring Jay Baruchel, Chris Diamantopoulos, and Kenneth Welsh, to steal one of the most valuable books in the world. What appears to be a simple plan at first, things begin to get complicated as alliances are made and true intentions are revealed.

Russell returns to the screen for the first time in two years as Crunch, a character which is sure to remind audiences of his turn as Stuntman Mike in Quentin Tarantino’s DEATH PROOF; unlike that film, Sobel actually gives Russell a decent amount to do with the role. Though it appears that Crunch is not the sharpest tool in the shed, he is given some snappy dialogue to make his character quite likable. Dillon’s Nicky on the other hand is pretty much a scumbag. This is obviously the intention though, as exemplified in a scene where Nicky swipes a wallet from a nine-year-old girl. Not given much in terms of character development, Dillon does as best he can with the role. The rest of the crew’s performances are decent, but their characters are often just as limited. Jay Baruchel appears as Crunch’s “apprentice”, but, much like in THIS IS THE END, he is just playing Jay Baruchel. Meanwhile, Terrance Stamp appears briefly as an INTERPOL informant, and is just a delight to watch in his short time on screen.


Though quite funny, THE ART OF THE STEAL often feels as if it is trying to shock with it’s crude language and heavy dialogue, like the plan to hide the stolen book in a model of the female genitalia, for example. Despite trying as hard as it does to distinguish itself as original, the film still feels just too familiar. Perhaps there have been so many heist films over the years that nothing can surprise the audience or feel original at this point. This isn’t Sobel’s fault; he tries his best to make his heist film fresh, and at times it is. Sadly though, it does not stand out and you’ll get just as much enjoyment, if not more, from watching OCEAN’S ELEVEN.


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