Saturday, March 20, 2010

Movie with Abe: Stolen

Directed by Anders Anderson
Released March 12, 2010

If made right, a thriller can be the most exciting film genre. An intriguing premise, legitimate suspense, solid performers, and a satisfying ending all contribute to the ideal thriller, which includes films such as “The Silence of the Lambs,” “Se7en,” “The Usual Suspects,” and “Red Dragon” in its cannon. It’s far easier, however, to fall into the trap of overly familiar and unoriginal plotting which instead becomes terribly plodding. This film falls flatly into the latter category, and it would probably be better termed a mystery film rather than a thriller since it proceeds forward at a devastatingly pensive pace.

“Stolen” follows two very different men in their struggle to cope with the disappearance of their sons. Jon Hamm, famous as the humorless Don Draper on “Mad Men,” is a detective in the present day trying to retain a clear focus in his investigations while still searching desperately for his son, who has been missing for nearly a decade. Josh Lucas costars as a newly single father in 1958 who, after the suicide of his wife, must find a new life for three young sons. The two stories are meant to invoke parallels between the two distraught fathers, but the connections are mostly forced and aided considerably by an obnoxious device which serves to physically transition the scene from one time period to the other.

Both fathers are obviously tied together to some degree by a shared understanding of their troubles, but there’s no reason that they need to appear in the same movie. It’s very much like “Frequency” without the supernatural space-time connection, an omission which undermines any reason to link the two stories. The problem is that neither is remotely strong enough to carry a movie by itself, and therefore combining them seems like an effort to create something more effective. Unfortunately there’s little intrigue since most of the film’s disappointingly few twists are hopelessly drawn out and obvious. For a movie that is supposedly about the shared plight of two parents, there’s precious little character development.

A cast littered with impressive stars doesn’t contribute much to the overall film, but it isn’t necessarily the fault of the actors. Hamm needs a better script, and Lucas needs a better role, which they have both had in the past and will have again in the future. Morena Baccarin, a familiar television face from “Firefly” and “V,” needs more movie work immediately because she’s incredible and stands out as the most memorable aspect of the film with only ten minutes or so of screen time. Compliments to Ms. Baccarin aside, the fact that she was the best in show doesn’t say very much about an otherwise throwaway film.


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