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"Steal" ... action sequences make it worthwhile.

NOW WE have seen it all. Bank robberies of all kinds. With this Mandarin/ Transfilm/ Spice Factory venture, people rob banks and rollerblade away to safety and tonnes of cash. You've had daring robberies on trains, skyscrapers — name it and it has been done. But now, here are these four young 20 somethings whose mastery in extreme sports allows them to steal money just like that. And then, of course, why wouldn't they rejoice when they make a cool packet? Something in the order of $20 million?

So here are Slim, Otis, Frank and Alex who are young, talented and completely daring. They excel at bank robberies. Which they manage most effectively by getting the money and disappearing into the crowds in ingenious ways. The law is always ten steps behind - naturally that is most frustrating for them and they are determined to catch these blighters at any cost.

Especially, the head, who means business; at least for himself, in terms of a brilliant catch. All for that fame and glory of being so efficient and clever.

Close on his heels is an attractive, savvy, detective who happens to be a woman. A woman who can match up to any deed. And then when this group plans its final heist _ five consecutive robberies in five days; they are accosted by hired killers. And surprise elements that lead them on a chase. Further, twists complicate their plan. Are they upto all this deviousness? A group that is so devious by itself? With a budget of over 15 million dollars, "Steal" is one of the most ambitious French action films to date.

The original screenplay (Mark Erza) has been adapted by Gerard Pires, who has added action scenes involving cars, trucks and other spectacular stunts. It is interesting to know that Gerard himself is crazy about automobile sports, which becomes evident in the film. What with all the helicopter/ cars scenes in the heart of a city (Montreal).

Many of the stunts were pulled off with a special crew under the supervision of Michel Julienne (known for his work in James Bond, Taxi, The Transporter) and stuntman Gilbert Bataille. And the filming of a six tonne truck barrelling forward on two wheels for over a kilometre is perhaps one of the film's overt achievements.

Then, of course, the scenes featuring sports such as rollerblading, base jumping and climbing, are done with a great deal of enthusiasm, with the camera (Tetsuo Nagata) moving swiftly between the players in a rush of action. This points a whole new avenue in a world dominated by youth, which thrives on the adrenaline rush and a `don't care' frame of mind. They egg each on to go beyond themselves.

Stephen Dorff plays Slim, the brain behind the group indulging in robberies.

With a bit of an angelic face, he manages to distract viewers into watching the action more than the emotions. Which are very few, by the way. And by the time the movie ends, you can kind of predict what would actually let these guys off the hook. Not bad planning, mind you, just predictable. Others in the cast include Natasha Henstridge, Steven Berkoff and Bruce Payne. You can see this film for the efforts it makes in the action sequences.


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