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STEAL

SYNOPSIS:
Slim (Stephen Dorff) is the leader of a gang of bank robbers, who comes up with a daring plan to pull off five heists in one week, using a different extreme sport each time to make their getaway. The first two heists go without a hitch, and they even find an extra $20 million in bonds. But corrupt cop Lt Macgruder (Bruce Payne) is hot on their tail, and wants a piece of the action, forcing Slim, Alex (Karen Cliché), Otis (Cle Bennett) and Frank (Steven McCarthy) to hand over the booty to him. But there are two other problems: hit man Surtayne (Steven Berkoff) is after them, chasing the $20 million in bonds that actually belongs to the Mob, as is Slim's new girlfriend Karen (Natasha Henstridge), who is excited by the challenge of catching Slim in the act.

Review by Louise Keller:
A fast-paced heist movie with big stunts, black humour, twists and double crosses, Steal might not deliver the goods when it comes to relationships and plot resolutions, but it is memorable for its ingenious escape action scenes. Originally titled Riders (Steal is a better title), this French/English/Canadian co-production shot in Montreal, has taken director Gerard Pires' (Taxi) film nearly three years to reach Australia.

And its budget of over US$15 million is mostly spent on its spectacular stunts, which include a thrilling roller blade sequence after a daring heist in which roller-bladers escape at high speed along footpaths, down stairs, balancing on the side of a truck and even leaping defiantly over a police car. 'That beats everything, even sex,' Karen Cliche's leggy blonde Alex muses to Stephen Dorff's fearless Slim. 'There's no such thing as too far,' is Slim's philosophy, and the sheer enthusiasm of the thrill-seeking bank robbers is often contagious, as we race with them against the clock (and away from the pursuing police) - all to a punchy and exciting music soundtrack.

Much of the appeal lies with Dorff, whose sexy and charismatic presence draws us to him, even if we don't really know much about his character beyond the fact that he is smart, resourceful and has nerves of steel. His relationship with Alex, a glamour puss who wears revealing clothes, stilettos and fish-nets, is mostly implied rather than stated, and they spend most of their screen time fighting like an old married couple. Slim gets his kicks, however, with the film's other blonde, the sleek and cool Natasha Henstridge, who plays a detective eager to snare the perpetrator. It's the same kind of push-me-pull-me magnetism that motivated insurance claims officer Catherine to Thomas Crown in The Thomas Crown Affair. But here again, the relationship is less than satisfying, withonly snapshots here and there of the developing relationship, like steamy moments of passion in the sauna.

Clé Bennett's Otis and Steven McCarthy's Frank are colourful additions to the bunch, but Steven Berkoff's hitman Surtayne, with the plastic hair-piece and stilted manner, is outrageously hammy and Bruce Payne's cynical, corrupt cop is never credible.

So Steal's highlights are the stunts, with exhilarating high-speed car chases, an 18 wheeler truck driving on just 9 wheels, a gripping helicopter pursuit and a daring escape from a bridge high over a deadly drop to a river. Stunt co-ordinator Michel Julienne (Taxi, The Transporter) excels at the task, and there's a sense of dare-devilry which gives the film both pace and attitude.

The plot and the script are flawed: we never know how the foursome escape from the submerged security truck after they drive it into water, nor do we believe the sequence of events when things don't go as planned. The resolution of the relationship between Slim and Alex is also less than satisfying.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 0
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 1

STEAL (M)
(France/UK/Canada)

CAST: Stephen Dorff, Natasha Henstridge, Bruce Payne, Steven Berkoff, Clé Bennet, Karen Cliche

PRODUCER: Eric Altmeyer, Michael Cowan, Jason Piette

DIRECTOR: Gérard Pirès

SCRIPT: Mark Ezra, Gérard Pirès

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Tetsuo Nagata

EDITOR: Véronique Lange

MUSIC: Andy Gray

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Guy Lalande

RUNNING TIME: 85 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: UIP

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: August 19, 2004







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