TIFF Review: Kurt Russell Pulls It Off in ‘The Art of the Steal’

September 16, 2013 10:30 pm Last Updated: September 26, 2014 1:19 pm

TORONTO—The Art of the Steal is a well-crafted crime comedy that tells the tale of two brothers, deftly played by big screen icons Kurt Russell and Matt Dillon.

Written and directed by Canadian Jonathan Sobal, the film made its world premiere at TIFF on Sept 11.

Russell plays hapless get-away driver Crunch Calhoun who takes the fall for a heist-gone-wrong when his team botches its last job. He does a hard 5 years in a Polish prison and comes out intent on livng the straight and narrow. It’s a hard-go though, and he’s left making his money crashing motorcycles in stunt jumps for the monster truck crowd at the coliseum.

But when the chance at one last big heist proves too tempting to resist, Crunch is pulled back into the game and the risks that come with it.

“Crunch is not the alpha dog,” explained Russell in the film’s press kit. “He’s the wheel man, or the bike man. He’s the ‘help’. It’s Nicky, his half-brother, who’s the alpha.”

The story moves swiftly, and Russell makes an endearing protagonist, with Dillon playing Nicky, his devious half-brother, a criminal mastermind with none of the scruples that are supposed to guide his craft.

“Nicky is intelligent,” said Dillon in the press kit. “He thinks everyone’s got an angle because he’s always got an angle.”

Crunch is just the opposite and despite his criminal inclinations, holds true to “the code” and tenets like not stealing from the innocent.

Written and directed by Jonathan Sobol, The Art of the Steal hits all the right spots, with a great supporting cast that includes Jay Baruchel, playing Crunch’s loyal stuntman protégé, and Terence Stamp as an art thief turned police informant.

For Canadians, it will be a point of pride to lay claim to a movie like this, which has a fighting chance in theatres.

“The Art of the Steal” has what it takes to satisfy audiences and critics alike. It’s well-written with sympathetic and believable characters. It’s also laugh-out-loud funny with an engaging plot that finishes with satisfying just deserts for its heroes and villains alike.

Set largely in Canada, the movie manages to make its setting work for an American audience that will need to come out to the theatres to make it profitable in the biggest movie market in the world. 

There won’t be any Oscar nominees, nor best director awards, but this is a film most anyone can enjoy and many will be happy they paid the price of admission for it. “The Art of the Steal” hits theatres on Sept 20.