Lying and Stealing, co-written and directed by Matt Aselton, is an old-school heist movie that hopes to appeal to a younger audience with its young, charismatic, and attractive stars. Although the film is unlikely to connect with that younger audience, it is enough mindless fun to be worth a watch.
The story follows a relatively common heist movie archetype — the “last job” storyline. However, as you are likely aware, things don’t go according to plan for the protagonist who hopes to get an easy out of the criminal underworld by finishing the big and challenging job. Instead, we are sent into another reverse-engineered heist of sorts required for the character to escape his life of crime.
If you’re looking for anything original or challenging, this movie isn’t for you. However, if you are a fan of the heist genre and are simply looking for a way to turn your brain off for a little more than an hour and a half, look no further. The pacing of the film is relatively strong, with a bunch of mini-heists leading up to the big scene at the end. Although there are a few anti-climactic moments, the movie moves along quickly enough that you won’t be able to sit on that for too long.
The characters are somewhat compelling despite their largely archetypal nature. The relationship that forms between the protagonist, Ivan, and his love interest, Elyse, is the most interesting part of the film. However, the movie doesn’t do enough to elaborate on their backstories. For example, Ivan’s father is referenced multiple times and yet we don’t get enough from that storyline.
Theo James and Emily Ratajkowski have great chemistry together even though their performances aren’t that strong on an individual level. Neither James nor Ratajkowski is a great performer, their delivery being mostly wooden and emotionless. That said, they are believable together and work as a pair. The more impressive performance comes from Fred Melamed, who plays the antagonist in an enjoyably goofy way.
Perhaps the most frustrating thing about the film is that it introduces multiple subplots that are never explored to the depth which they should be. Ratajowski’s character is involved in a sexual harassment storyline, and although that does have a satisfying end, it still feels underbaked. Additionally, a subplot involving the protagonist’s brother having a mental illness is never addressed in depth.
On a technical level, the movie was mostly fine if a bit underwhelming. For a heist movie, the cinematography and editing are rather subdued. You would expect a film like this of this genre to be more stylized and over-the-top. That said, being about an art thief, the movie does contain quite a few beautiful works of art.
Lying and Stealing is by no means a revolutionary film, but it is pretty enjoyable. If you’re looking for a mindless way to spend an hour and a half, this is worth a rental.
Lying and Stealing hits theaters and VOD on July 12.