The Art of the Steal tells the story of a mismatched group of thieves who don't quite trust one another. They are out to rob a Seurat or, in one of the film's subplots, the valuable second book by Gutenberg, The Gospel According to James, known to the gang as 'Jimmy'.
Kurt Russell plays Crunch Calhoun, an unfortunately named small-time crook just released from prison in Poland after an art theft gone wrong. He was set up by his half-brother Nicky (Matt Dillon), and as Crunch says: "The real currency in the world ain't money. It's trust."
Too often, films about heists or cons suffer from pacing that is either glacially slow or too fast to generate interest from the audience. The Art of the Steal gets it right and slyly hints that every clue matters. You are whipped through a range of emotions, from fear and paranoia to revenge and redemption.
While The Art of the Steal does not try to break much new ground for the genre, it does exactly what all good con movies should, with a plot that keeps the audience guessing until the end and plenty of eye-candy-quality actors and actresses. Its humour is refreshing and laced throughout the script.
As always, Russell and Dillon pull off the punch lines flawlessly, but the entire cast contributes to the laughs, with Jay Baruchel particularly funny. Highlights include an anatomically-oriented piece of art, which features heavily in the team's plan for the heist, and the interactions between Crunch and Nicky as they ride around helplessly in the boot of a car.
This crime really does pay.