In 2008, French director Pierre Morel made an action thriller with 56-year-old Irish actor, Liam Neeson, who was earlier best known to the world at large as various things, none of them having anything remotely to do with action or thrill.
The film, about a father who is hunting down the kidnappers of his daughter, went on to be a spectacular success and with it, Liam Neeson turned from the softy Oskar Schindler and the father of the cute kid from Love Actually, to a badass, who “does not know who you are, does not know what you want, but will find you, and will kill you,” for reasons like… err… calling him a softy.
Hollywood was, of course, mighty surprised how a film that turned a presumably over-the-hill actor into a clinical killer of people who annoyed him, and decided it was time to pay an ode to the movie by doing two things: Making a sequel that was exactly the same film (Taken 2), and rehashing the film into exactly the same film (Stolen).
Both released in 2012, and both are so very abysmal that you don’t allow yourself to fall asleep in the theatre because somewhere, deep down inside of you, you truly feel that putting yourself through the movie could help atone for your sins.
You can read my review of Taken 2 (and the 5 Rules of making a Hollywood Sequel) in the archives, but here’s my review of Stolen, which is probably the most original thing about the movie:
Stolen is such an uninteresting, uninspiring and unnecessary rehash of Taken that even the makers felt guilty enough to admit the truth about the movie’s origins in its name – the film is literally stolen from Taken.
The story is precisely that: about a father (Nicolas Cage) hunting down the kidnapper of his daughter (Sami Gayle), who has been taken from him. The difference here is that Nicolas Cage is no Liam Neeson, the daughter (Sami Gayle) is no Maggie Grace, and the action is no good. The movie could still have been a notch above dung, had the very hot Malin Akerman given some sort of a preview of what she has in store for us in her upcoming Linda Lovelace biopic, but unfortunately the movie has no, umm, ‘aesthetically shot’ swimsuit moments either, which almost made Taken 2 bearable.
And I have to admit, I was actually looking forward to the movie because the last time Stolen director Simon West and Nicolas Cage came together, they gave us the Die Hard of aviation films, Con Air, whose climactic action scene is alone worth the price of Stolen’s ticket.
Ten times over. In gold. But where it stands at the moment, even if you take Taken out of the picture, Stolen is, in the words of Joey from Friends, a moo movie – it really doesn’t matter.
A silent word of prayer in the end for Nicolas Cage, who is, to give a dreadful analogy, like the S Sreesanth of Hollywood movies: he annoys the crap out of you, but you secretly hope he succeeds, even if it is just to see him dance in the middle of the pitch (or the Hollywood equivalent of that).
Here’s hoping Charlie Kauffman’s Frank or Francis or any of Cage’s 50 upcoming B-movies do the trick for him. Or let’s just trust Sylvester Stallone enough to cast him in Expendables 3, shall we?