Written for RAF News November 2019
Beautiful people Ivan and Elyse combine their charm and guile in a con job that aims to get them both out of trouble.
Symmetrically handsome art thief Ivan (Theo James, Divergent Series) owes mob boss Dimitri (Fred Melamed) for the debt of his deceased father. Apparently only two jobs away from his freedom, things seem too good to be true until a local murder and the appearance of the FBI parked outside his apartment.
Added to this, Ivan’s bi-polar brother (Ebon Moss-Bachrach) with the same genetic sticky fingers moves in from rehab, and there’s the addition of wily bombshell Elyse (Emily Ratajkowski), an actress disgraced from Hollywood for rejecting the approach of a lecherous producer, trading favours and taking an interest in our mumbly monotonous hero.
Lying and Stealing does not wait around, it’s a quick 100 minutes that establishes its stakes early on, telegraphs the good guys and the bad, and lets you enjoy the heisty action in short snappy scenes. It doesn’t set up the method of the job, or lean on tension whilst its playing out, you’re simply dropped into the moment to enjoy the satisfaction of someone stealthily applying their craft and using gadgets without detection.
Some way into the film the directorial style comes out of nowhere and it feels like its suddenly appealing to an older audience in both its language and violence. Largely though, it plays as a crime caper with the twists straightened and the style ironed out. It doesn’t get bogged down in the usual double-crosses and plays pretty straight for the most part.
The story is simple and the template shows itself in the details (the big bad known as ‘The Greek’), but there is something to be said for not trying to be too clever and having your grasp exceed your reach.
It could have been more complex or humorous, but it wasn’t, and that’s fine.