With the action played out in 90 derivative minutes across Canada and Detroit it’s “America lite” jokes one character. Though it might as well be ‘Ocean’s Eleven lite’ as Crunch enlists the help of his apprentice Francie (Jay Baruchel) to ‘get the old gang back together’ for a multi-million dollar art scam involving several MacGuffins including a 3ft cubist sculpture of a vagina (no, really). Meanwhile with Interpol (or in this case Inept-erpol) and its super grass (Terence Stamp with a wicked cameo) on their trail the gang have got their work cut out. Sort of.
Featuring likeable characters with surprisingly believable chemistry The Art of the Steal zips along with eager to please flourishes from writer/director Jonathan Sobol; including some convoluted but enjoyable repartee. “Great men don’t miss their fate…” proclaims Crunch sagely but Baruchel’s sidekick delivers the killer Appatow-style – and no doubt improvised – riposte, “My god you’re a downer. A fuckin’ boner killer!”
But it’s not enough to put this on your must see list and the trouble is from Tarantino to Guy Ritchie via Soderbergh we’ve seen it all before. Grizzled crim tempted out of retirement for a shot at redemption? Check. Rubbish cops and wacky gangsters? Check. Flash-forward montage with meta-fuelled narrator to keep the plot ticking over when the characters can’t? Check. And with one contrived plot twist too many the final act descends into a fug of farce stealing the film’s early promise and exposing Sobol’s cinematic pretensions as more than a decade out of date.