Stolen (2009) Poster

(2009)

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10/10
Very good mystery movie
dickklip11 April 2010
My wife and I found this on our pay per view channel, and from the synopsis, thought it looked worth watching. We were not disappointed. This is a very good film, in the genre of "Chinatown" and "Changeling". The story (without spoilers), is briefly as follows:

A police detective (John Hamm) has lost his only son eight years earlier, when he went to the restroom in a diner. The usual guilt and strain on his marriage ensues, as he tries to go through life with this unsolved mystery haunting him.

He is drawn into a case of another missing child, and becomes obsessed with that search, to try to find some vindication for what has happened to him. Throughout this exploration, the story is told in two stories, of him and the father of the other missing child, creating parallels, and differences in the two cases.

Eventually the dots connect and lead to a very dramatic ending. although it's a little too neatly tied up.

This is a very entertaining movie, which grabs your interest from the start, engages you with the duplicate stories throughout, and provides some twists and turns at the end, for added effect.

I really enjoyed it and am surprised that it wasn't released theatrically, as I think it is much better than the current "Ghost Writer", for example. It's a good mystery tale, and very worth watching!
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7/10
Duplicity: Parallel Lives, Parallel Loses
gradyharp28 June 2010
STOLEN is a small budget film that deals with a major problem - loss of a child by abduction and the desperate need to find that child despite the passage of many years. Writer Glenn Taranto and Director Anders Anderson present two cases of kidnapping and murder, space them fifty years apart and interconnect the two stories in a way that is both disturbing psychologically and confusing as a film. It works on many levels and the absence of information about motivation interferes with allowing this movie to be more powerful.

Ten years ago police officer Tom Adkins, Sr (Jon Hamm) left his only son Tom Jr. in a diner for a moment, only to return and find him missing. His abilities as a law enforcement officer and his guilt as a 'negligent' father erodes his life and his marriage to Barbara (Rhona Mitra): he is unable to give up the search for his missing son despite the ten years of absence, a factor that practically drives his marriage to divorce. A body is found in a box and Tom Sr immediately thinks it is his son, but investigation reveals that it is the body of a child that has been dead for fifty years. The film then begins a series of flashbacks to a story fifty years ago when a young father Matthew Wakefield (Josh Lucas), having lost all of his money and home and facing the resultant suicide of his wife decides he must place his three children with relatives: one son, John (Jimmy Bennett), is mentally challenged, and Matthew's relatives will only take the two 'normal' boys, leaving John to live with his unemployed father. Matthew finds a room for the two of them and begins works at a construction site, John tags along to be with his dad - a problem for the boss of the construction site. Matthew forms friends with Diploma (James Van Der Beek) and Swede (Holt McCallany), is diverted by a sexual liaison, and during that time John is abducted. We lose track of Matthew at this point, but jumping back to the present the discovered boy's body proves to be John Wakefield and this discovery consumes Tom Sr to uncover the murderer of the Wakefield boy, hoping that in some way it ties in with the disappearance of his own son. The plot becomes a bit murky at this point and a bit to 'rush to climax', but needless to say the murders are connected and Tom Sr and his wife are able to come to grips with the fact that Tom Jr is lost forever.

The film is shot in a a somewhat sepia color when dealing with the murder of fifty years ago and remains dusty appearing through the present - not unlike the soil that has hidden the uncovered truths so well. The acting is fine, with some very fine cameo appearances by Johanna Cassidy as Tom Sr.'s mother and Jessica Chastain and Rose Montgomery as the feminine influences. The makeup artists have done the film a disservice as they try to age people fifty years as the film winds down: to say more would be to give away the ending. But the reason the film works is the commitment behind relating these tragedies on the part of all concerned. It is especially noteworthy in that it is the work of a relatively inexperienced writer and director.

Grady Harp
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7/10
Underrated crime drama which is ultimately cathartic
perkypops14 May 2012
Perhaps the most daunting prospect for anyone wanting to watch this film is not piecing together the identification of a serial killer, it is watching the unraveling of the police detective and his marriage as the loss of his son, grabbed whilst momentarily out of sight, taunts him even eight years after it happened. This film does not let go of the torture this father endures as he tries to piece together all the similarities between his loss and that of a previous child whose body has been discovered. We observe how his wife comes slowly to terms with the fact her son may be dead, but he cannot let go.

The story is never easily told perhaps because the director wished us to explore the notion that reality is seldom something we confront without absolute proof. At times the acting is so real we may feel like giving up on this father because if he cannot let go then we can, but we persevere as he does.

Although I felt the story could have been better told I did end up admiring this work simply because it is very human exposing all the faults and frailties of our lives. It is also ultimately cathartic with a natural release with allows us to breathe again.

It is certainly a fine film and well worth watching.
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9/10
A hidden gem of a film
MattyGibbs12 June 2012
I had never heard of this film before chancing upon it recently. The premise sounded OK so I decided to watch it expecting something very much run of the mill.

The film centres on a policeman's (Jon Hamm) search to uncover the truth behind the discovery of a 50 year old corpse of a child. It also interweaves the story of a young man (Josh Lucas) and his 3 sons as he struggles to support his family in 1950's America. The 1950's storyline in particular is dealt with extremely well but both story lines link well together throughout the movie.

I have never seen anything of Hamm's previous work and only Posieden of Lucas but was impressed by both actors who conveyed the sense of loss of a child impressively throughout. Lucas in particular was I thought outstanding. The children in the film were also impressive especially Jimmy Bennett. The rest of the cast had less to work with and the characters weren't fully fleshed out but this was probably due to the relatively short running period of the film.

Once it hits its stride (fairly early on) this film never lets go. I found it quite moving and disturbing at the same time and for viewers with children this film will hit home in particular.

Whilst it does have a few flaws, for a relatively low budget film this is extremely impressive.
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4/10
Fifty years on...
jc-osms26 May 2012
This thriller, starring "Mad Men's" John Hamm, while watchable, ultimately fails through implausible plotting and the contrived use of coincidence.

Consider Hamm's anguished cop, who, at a Fourth of July pageant, in the mere minutes it took him to go to and from the toilet in a diner establishment, finds the son who accompanied him has apparently disappeared as if into thin air, never to return. It later transpires that he encounters the perpetrator just outside the diner, so how has he managed to spirit away his son and got back to the pageant in those mere minutes?

Years pass, with Hamm unable to get over his loss and attendant guilt, the emotional distance between him and his wife widening close to separation point, when a child's body is unearthed, bearing similarities to his own child and immediately throwing suspicion on a long-interred suspect. The movie then moves back and forth in time from the present-day to 1958 where we see enacted the story of the disappearance (thankfully, there are no scenes depicting the actual murder of the children) of the first child and the truth is gradually brought to light as the stories converge.

That's quite a lot to bring together in a mere 90 minutes and after all the exposition, the ending is wound up in double quick time, with a too blatant slip by the murderer and too easily obtained subsequent confession. I also thought the 1958 story was more involving, if more implausible than the present-day one, contriving a "Postman Always Rings Twice" dalliance between the father and a local femme-fatale, complete with jealous husband, unbalancing the narrative, although the transitions between the two time-frames were cleverly done, with dissolves on the shared crime-scene exhibits.

The acting was okay, Hamm jutting his jaw and running his hand through his hair in familiar angst-ridden fashion, although I thought the better acting was done by Josh Lucas as his 1950's counterpart, conveying just the right composite of Henry Fonda crossed with James Stewart as the drifter at the mercy of fate, while Morena Baccarin and James Van der Beek playing respectively the slack wife and the murderer made strong, if brief impressions too.

In the end, this was a fairly routine thriller, lacking somewhat in tension, characterisation and credibility, with more of the aspects of a TV movie than Hollywood feature. I don't think I'd pay to watch it, seeing it on the small-screen seemed about right.
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5/10
A terrific premise and solid acting are marred by painfully weak scripting and art direction.
embo668 June 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Just caught this on Sundance, where it was billed as a "taut thriller." Since it featured Jon Hamm and Josh Lucas, things sounded very promising.

To be fair, most of the acting in this flick is pretty good — good enough, in fact, to keep you essentially engrossed throughout, despite the horde of art direction gaffes and plot / characterization holes wide enough to drive a 1958 Chevelle through several times over. Bottom line: This movie has a terrific premise and solid acting, but the painfully weak script keeps it mired in B-movie territory.

Detective Tom Adkins (Hamm) is tormented by guilt for having momentarily left his 10-year-old son alone at their table in an old diner, which leads to the boy getting abducted. Eight years later, the case remains unsolved — and his marriage still deeply troubled by tensions you assume are due to Tommy, Jr.'s disappearance (but that largely go unaddressed). You are told that Tom has been obsessed with the case, spending hours in Jr.'s room and hounding a felon convicted for similar crimes for clues or a confession about his own son.

When the body of a "boy in a box" is found after being buried for 50 years, we begin a VERY long parallel journey with another father, Matthew Wakefield (Lucas), whose youngest son is also abducted and — you guessed it — the two cases wind up being very connected, indeed. Yet we spend far more time back in the 1958 story than in the present; when we are returned to the present day, it's almost as if the director and screenwriter do so just to clumsily move the "these stories are related" bits along before going back to the past with sighs of relief.

There are some fairly skillful visual transitions on screen as we move between the past and present story lines, but the editing techniques are far more adept than the script's.

For one thing, there's just no "thrill" in this "thriller." Although Detective Adkins is ostensibly "investigating" the parallel 50-year-old abduction and murder, most of our knowledge of that older case comes directly from watching it unfold on screen, rather than through any leads Adkins actually unearths. ***SPOILER ALERTS*** Even more maddeningly, the most obvious, early clue — a whistle both boys got from eating at the same diner 50 years apart — isn't even investigated by Adkins until much later in the film. And — for a haunted man who's spent hours over the years in his son's room, staring at all the things he insists be left intact there — it somehow doesn't dawn on Adkins until nearly the end of the movie that the corroded toy found with the dead boy strongly resembles a metal rabbit in Tommy Jr.'s own toy box. Finally, all the foreshadowing with the felon Adkins suspects of being responsible for Tommy's death spoils what little tension surrounds this character.

As for the art direction . . . Well, the 1950s NEVER looked like this! As many, many others here have already noted, the hairstyles worn by every single character in this movie aren't at all contemporary with the period. A central photograph is given a Photoshop "retro" treatment, but still looks wholly contemporary, as do many of the so-called 1950s fashions worn. To complain may sound like carping -- but this laziness in recreating the period we spend so much time in REALLY detracts from 1) your ability to truly sink into the story, and 2) your attempt to respect the filmmakers here. Even some of the dialog and the characters' behavior seem out of sync with 1950s mores and attitudes.

Finally, all the characters in this film (with the possible exception of Matthew Wakefield) are pretty thinly drawn. It's testament to Hamm's acting skills that we understand as much as we do about his misery. But his long-suffering wife remains an utter cipher throughout, as does the character who winds up being the killer of both boys. We all laugh at that "Um, what's my motivation here?" spoof of actors — but these characters sure could have used some! Because without that underlying texture of personality and motive, everything is reduced to simple plot mechanics; you stay with the story not because you really care about these people, but simply because you want to find out who did it.
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6/10
Two big things
MBunge9 April 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Man, movies like this are almost a shame. Except for two things, Stolen is a well crafted journey into the most horrible thing that can happen to any parent and how life tries to go on afterward. Take any moment of this film not affected by those two previously mentioned things and you'd be impressed with the acting, direction and the writing. But those two things just cripple the whole narrative and leaves it limping like an Olympic sprinter who just pulled his hamstring. What makes it so bad is that the problems with those two things are so screamingly obvious, it's impossible to understand how no one involved with this production didn't see and recognize what needed to be fixed. Granted, fixing those two things would have likely required some significant changes to the rest of Stolen which is otherwise perfectly okay as it is. The difference between good and great, however, is often the willingness to do that. To not ignore or brush aside a weakness in a script because it's too fundamental to the story to alter without altering everything else. If those two flaws had been addressed, this would have been a different motion picture. It also would have been a lot better.

Tom Adkins (Jon Hamm) is a police detective in 2008 still haunted by the disappearance of his son 8 years ago when the two of them stopped at a roadside diner on the 4th of July. When a small corpse is uncovered at a construction site, Tom thinks the worst but it turns out to be the body of a boy who died 50 years before his son. As Tom investigates in his time, we flash back 50 years to Matthew Wakefield (Josh Lucas) and his youngest son, John (Jimmy Bennett). With his wife a suicide and his other two boys taken in by his sister-in-law, Matt and the mentally-challenged John hit the road in a desperate search for work. As their tale cruises toward John's inevitable death, Tom is driven to solve that crime as a substitute for his missing child. And as you can probably guess, Tom discovers that the two are connected.

Let me state that I quite liked watching Stolen for a long way through. No one can brood on screen like Jon Hamm and the way he keeps the awful pain of Tom's lost son an inch under his skin at every moment is almost mesmerizing. Matthew and John being tossed about by fate like bits of flotsam in a storm is also compelling, even though you know how it's going to end. Director Anders Anderson uses some amazing transitions to take us between the ages and both Jessica Chastain and Morena Baccarin shine in their roles. If you've never seen either woman before, you end the film wanting to see a lot more of both. I would still call this a good movie.

But…there are those two things. Others may not mind then and perhaps I'm being too finicky, but they're such glaring narrative mistakes that I cannot overlook them. One if that Tom has a suspect in his son's abduction. The other is the nature of the connection between the two missing/dead boys.

First, the suspect. He's a character who, when he enters the story, is in prison for "similar crimes" to the disappearance of Tom's son. Any viewer will therefore naturally assume he's guilty, which could have been the basis of a great twist but isn't. So, the audience starts out knowing who killed Tom's son and when it becomes clear that killing is linked with the dead boy from 1958, the audience also immediately knows who's responsible for that death. Stolen is a mystery that spoils its own mystery and doesn't seem to realize it. Another problem with the suspect is that he's already behind bars, which really throws a monkey wrench in trying to create any tension or drama around him. There's a reference to his conviction being overturned, but if that happened Tom would instantly be on the guy like white on rice. The suspect being in prison is what protects him, so the idea he might get out is actually a good thing if you're rooting for Tom. Furthermore, there's a major difference emotionally and psychologically from having a missing child and suspecting a specific person has killed your child. The latter is what's going on in this movie but Tom and his wife (Rhona Mitra) act like they're living through the former. For pity's sake, Tom's wife never even mentions or refers to the guy in prison and it's beyond belief that Tom hasn't shared his suspicions with her.

And then there's the connection between the two killings. Yes, the same person did both. What's wrong is that you could have taken any of the characters from 1958, made them the killer and it would have made as much sense as who actually did it. There's no rhyme, reason or logic to why that character did it instead of someone else and there's no justification, explanation or rationale for why that character being the killer is significant or meaningful. When the moment of revelation comes, the folks who made Stolen treat it like a mindblowing event. All it truly merits, though, is a shrug of the shoulders and a "So what?"

Despite those two things, I'd still recommend people watch this film, which should say all that needs to be said about how well done everything else is in Stolen. I can't help but think, though, about how much better that different movie would have been.
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Intense character study with nice touches of surrealism
rooprect6 December 2011
The plot is pretty simple: a man who is searching for his lost son gets wrapped up in a parallel mystery from 50 years earlier. It isn't intended to be a Hitchcockian thriller with lots of action, twists & turns, but instead it's a great character study into the mind of a man who borders on obsession. It asks the questions: when are we supposed to let go, and if we do pursue closure, at what cost? Over the course of his many-year investigation, the man's life becomes a total mess, and in that respect we see some interesting parallels with the excellent Clint Eastwood film "In the Line of Fire" (about a secret service agent who fails to save JFK and who is tasked with foiling a similar assassination decades later). Both films ask us what is the difference between perseverance and obsession? The answer, even after the credits roll, is up to you.

Something I really liked about this film is the way the director used surrealism to blend the two timelines, 1958 and 2008. Scenes would blend seamlessly from one to the other. For example, there's one shot in a bar where the camera flows through the room beginning in 2008 and ending in 1958 without any cuts. This subtle style, in addition to the underlying mystery of the whole story, forces the audience to keep on their toes.

The basic plot is pretty straightforward, but there are a lot of background questions & themes that are not as obvious. These questions give the film substance. Religion is a minor theme that crops up visually in the form of crucifixes and subtle lighting effects. Guilt is another subtle yet powerful theme. I also sense a bit of existentialism in that the heroes are subjected to some rotten luck without any apparent rhyme or reason, and it is only through the individuals' strength of character that they manage to make it through the day. In all, there's a ton of stuff going on, and if you like your films to be full of philosophy and questions of morality, this will be a real treat for you.

Other great films worth checking out are "Changeling" (2008) about a woman searching for her lost son, "A Very Long Engagement" (2004) about a woman searching for a soldier reportedly killed in action, the aforementioned "In the Line of Fire" (1993) about a secret service agent trying to redeem himself for losing JFK, and a wonderful unknown gem called "Into Temptation" (2009) about a priest trying to find a suicidal confessor before it's too late.
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10/10
Based on a true story, up and coming actors, and gripping from start to finish; if you are a parent, this movie is a window through which to view your darkest fears.
jmflath7 June 2010
Lucas, Hamm, and a strong cast of actors/ actresses that deliver. Not everyone is familiar with Hamm who stars in the cable TV series "Mad Men", but this guy's future is bright. Lucas delivers yet another solid performance as well. The movie tells two stories sometimes individually, and other times simultaneously. The ending ties up most loose ends, but it is based on a true story, so not every ending is perfect.Their is no lagging at any point in the film, it grabs you from the very beginning and doesn't let go; this is the type of movie you want to reflect on and discuss after it is over.

I was surprised when I read the demographics of who liked this movie best, since it will definitely have a stronger affect on parents than other viewers. Bottom line--if you like movies that are based on true stories that have well developed characters and an original story line, then you should give this movie a shot. I am a moviephile who likes any genre as long as the movie is good, and I hadn't seen a good movie in a few months before this one.

Pros: 1.Based on a true story, so there is originality and uniqueness;

which also negates the doubt some might have when unusual

coincidences seem to pile up.

2.Solid acting from up and comers

3.Well developed characters

4.Clever weaving of two stories

5.Stronger impact on parents, especially when watched together

since it is about child abduction

6.Soundtrack enhances emotions throughout, and filming also

well done

Cons: 1.Serious storyline, not necessarily for those who want to be

uplifted or inspired.

2.One of the story lines is explained much better than the other;

though this was probably done to allow the story to be

presented in a more creative poignant way, it will leave you

with some questions; but I wouldn't say that detracted from the

movie very much since the other storyline was nicely tied up.

3.Might bore those who are not as into character development

and story lines as action and visual effects, and also

definitely not a comedy.
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6/10
a good time pass movie, which is quite provocative because of subject matter but shot in very non-provocative way.
Saad Khan29 September 2010
STOLEN – CATCH IT ( B ) Stolen is a TV drama like movie, which moves slowly and gradually. Still its captivating story and characterization keeps us binding. I love how director mixed the 70s story with the present time. Jon Hamm is really good, I haven't seen Mad Men (it's On My Do List) yet but heard a lot about him. Watching Josh Lucas is always a pleasure, maybe he is too honest and handsome that's why? Rohna Mitra did a good job though she doesn't have much spoken scenes. Jessica Chastain and Morena Baccarin are Gorgeous. James Van Der Beek is Creepy. Overall a good time pass movie, which is quite provocative because of subject matter but shot in very non-provocative way.
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10/10
Strong reaction
Peggy Kuntzelman8 August 2013
I had never heard of this movie but saw it on Netflix and it looked interesting so I gave it a try. Wow, I was hooked, such powerful acting by Josh Lucas, Jon Hamm and James Van Der Beek. I haven't read all the reviews here so I don't know if anyone else has mentioned it but the makeup department definitely deserves praise for the job they did with the age makeup.

The story really caught my attention, I loved how it was intertwined between the past and the present and I really enjoyed the final confrontation.

I really would recommend this movie, you won't be disappointed.
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8/10
The Ultimate Movie Review! - http://tss5078.blogspot.com
Tss507815 July 2012
When you watch a lot of independent and direct-to-video films, you see a lot of garbage, but occasionally you find a gem that makes it all worthwhile, Stolen, is one of those gems. This story was so intriguing and well written that I was absolutely blown away. The film is about a detective whose son went missing, without a trace, eight years ago. The trail is cold and he's beginning to accept that he will never find him, when a local construction crew finds a boy in a box. The body has been there for at least fifty years, but the case awakens something in the detective who has to learn the truth. From there, quite ingeniously, the film is divided into three different stories, the story of the boy in the box, the detectives investigation, and the story of his own child. It was seriously like watching three different movies at once, and they were all great! The cast was pretty phenomenal too, as this was a very hard thing to pull off, but they did it seemingly with ease. Josh Lucas just blew my mind, giving an unrivaled performance as the father of the other missing boy. I've seen him in things before, but nothing was as memorable as this. Stolen is a film that consists of three stories in once, that will pull on your emotions and have you on the edge of your seat. It's one of the best films I've seen all year and I can't recommend it enough!
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2/10
Stolen: I was robbed of 3 bucks to rent this mess!
bigdarvick10 June 2010
To me, this movie was horribly written and directed. One thing that bothered me was the fact that a great deal of this movie took place in 1958, yet everyone was sporting hair styles not appropriate for that era. This is an art direction gaffe and when small details like that are overlooked, it creates doubt for the viewer, either consciously or subconsciously.

Once again, the actor Josh Lucas walks through this movie with the same pained look on his face that he had throughout the movie Tell Tale--another big bomb.

Over all, Stolen had a made for TV look and feel to it. It dragged and dragged and dragged. I got up and went to the bathroom numerous times, then I got up and went to the fridge repeatedly. Finally, I sat down again and tried to focus on the movie but it was too late. I could no longer sit and watch it. I was angry for falling for the fake reviews,"Compelling, tense thriller..." Shame on me!!
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7/10
Good mystery movie...
Nightmare-Maker9 July 2010
Stolen is a good mystery movie.

If you are looking for something to pass 90 minutes, you could do a lot worse.

The story basically is a cop, Tom Adkins, is haunted by the disappearance of his son 8 years ago. Then he discovers the remains of another boy about the same age as his own son, who was murdered 50 years previously. He becomes obsessed with the case, which has been long-forgotten. Is the 1958 case, involving down-on-his-luck dad of three family man, Matthew Wakefield and his own sons disappearance linked in any way to that of Tom Adkins?

Acting is fine by all.

Personally I thought the film started really well, and I thought the 1958 story was more interesting than the present story. But the ending seemed a tad rushed.

But, not a bad film at all.

My advice...well worth renting....but don not buy! (It's a watch once film)
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9/10
Absolutely worth a watch!
sharviel19 March 2011
Warning: Spoilers
I normally loath movies about the kidnapping of children but this one was fabulous! As always, Lucas performs perfectly - as does the rest of the cast.

The greatest thing about this movie is the subtlety. You know what's been done to these children but it never crosses that line and shows you or goes into any great detail about it, which I very much appreciated.

The characters were developed very well without long blocks of the movie taken up with boring development. The plot was easy to follow yet still intricate enough to hold your interest. I was taken aback somewhat by the revelation of the killer although I had a suspicion all along.

Only had one problem with the movie and that was the fact that a cop was allowed full access to a prisoner who was a suspect in the disappearance of the cops son. That would not have happened in "real life" and I found that to be a bit distracting.

Excellent movie, finely acted and written. I would highly recommend to anyone.
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4/10
This movie fails to engage and strains credibility.
johnstreby-752-97774728 October 2013
Little flaws in production design can distract viewers from the story. Here, we have Josh Lucas and his wife losing their home to foreclosure in 1958, yet they own a brand new Rambler. The set-up would have been more persuasive if the family car had been something from the late 40s or early 50s. The boys' hair styles, particular John's, are likewise out of place. Further, most of the male actors are chronically showing about a 4-day growth of beard. Some of those characters might be expected to shave only occasionally, but not so for Thomas Atkins, a police detective. I found the pacing far too slow and the movie was the longest 91-minute flick I've ever seen. The story never grabbed me by the collar as it needed to. Quickie, casual sex while standing up and fully clothed is another silly cliché that detracts from the plausibility of the story. I'm quick to defend movies that have been unfairly maligned by critics, such as "Bonfire of the Vanities," but this DVD box is headed for the donation bin of the local thrift shop.
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10/10
Extremely underrated gem!
dirtyrichrara20 November 2012
Do yourself a favor...watch this movie! Josh Lucas, John Hamm, and James Van Byke all give wonderfully superb performances in this dual plot story. The story of 2 fathers in different eras with the same issue, searching for his missing son is woven to perfection. An extremely pressing and reoccurring theme set the base for a beautifully sad story that occurs so often in so many places. The scripting was wonderful and the settings are so natural and not overpowering as many Hollywood films are. I'd kept this on my netflix queue for so long, I started to watch it three times before I fully committed. I was sorry I'd postponed it so long. Such a beautiful film with stellar performances. Watch watch!
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8/10
Whistling in the dark
charlytully19 October 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Chollies' Diner is the BRIGADOON of eateries. Located beyond the fringes of "Barnstable" town, it apparently pops up--unchanged, standing in the middle of nowhere--once every century (OR, whenever a child predator is nearby, whichever comes first). Blessed with an inexhaustible supply of tin whistles inscribed "keep the home fires burning" for distribution to prospective young murderees, this diner from hell is shown from 1958 to 2000 within the confines of STOLEN's story. Despite this whodunit's title, only the whistles turn out to be stolen: the kids are dispatched ASAP and promptly land-filled by their twisted killer. Though the story is nonlinear and somewhat hard to follow, the power of the acting performances and the lack of gratuitous torture porn make this a worthwhile diversion. Josh Lucas (Matthew) is especially haunting as a hard-pressed father of three facing bad luck and ill will from his fellow man at nearly every turn during the story's flashbacks to 1958. Morena Baccarin is striking as a femme fatale, and Jimmy Bennett is convincing as Matthew's differently-abled son, John. This is a movie for people who don't mind being surprised by turns in the plot.
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7/10
This movie will not steal your time
adi_200226 January 2014
Tom just lost his son after a moment of inattention while they were in a restaurant. At a construction site near by it's found a dead body of a child and Tom thinks that it is his son. Being a detective he deeps more in this case and it leads him to another child abduction and murder that happened fifty years ago.

A beautiful and at the same time a sad story told from two points of view, one from the present and the other from the '50. The crossing makes the movie watchable and the fact that they are connected makes the movie even more intriguing. It's almost impossible not to share a tear after and the original story could make us to forget about the little flaws. An unique film that deserves your time.
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3/10
Predictable yet engrossing
sfiver7 February 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Caught this film by accident on Showtime. Its 'get-to-the-point' screenplay holds some similarity to the "Cold Case" television series. Detective Tom Adkins is drawn into a case where the body of a young child in a buried box is found on a construction site. Initially, he holds hope the corpse is that of his own long lost son who disappeared at a roadside carnival some ten years previous when he was 8-years old. However, the deceased child is a boy. The remains prove likely the crime is 50 years old.

The story jumps back into 1958 by introducing Matthew Wakefield and his three super-obedient children; all boys. You're left to guess the ages. Oldest is 13, middle child maybe 11, and John is possibly 9 or 10. Their mother's sudden death leaves Wakefield devastated. He is unemployed and can't find work. He is able to board his two older boys with his wife's childless sister and her ignorant husband.

His youngest son, John, is mentally challenged and deemed unacceptable by the ignorant brother-in-law for the retardation and other questionable reasons (perhaps Wakefield is a homo and John is not his biological offspring) by his brother-in-law. Matthew has no choice but to keep young John with him as he seeks employment. He lands a construction job quickly. His dedication and work ethic keeps him working. He and his young boy move into a nearby rooming house. He also brings his son to work until the site foreman forbids it. No choice but to leave the challenged child home, then the unthinkable in more ways than one: John goes missing.

Back to the future: Detective Adkins realizes the similarities are too coincidental. It appears evident the same killer committed the crimes 40-years apart. The audience already knows the killer. The story follows the path of least resistance.

Jon Hamm is a charmer. His talent is moderated (or obliterated) for whatever reasons in this 91 minute drama. Ditto for Josh Lucas who plays the 1958 father. Lucas is able to rise above the script at times. This is a male dominated piece. Female characters are hollow or dead while alive. In one silly bit Lucas' character joins Sally Ann, the town slut, in an attempt of sexual intercourse during a night-time delivery dock rendezvous.

Everyone's a critic, eh? The film lacks depth.

Spoilers ahead: Wakefield's wife and mother of their three boys commits suicide presumably because her youngest son is a 'retard' in 1958 ??? Our culture had well-advanced by then to accept the mentally retarded. The three brothers introduction in the film would've been better served by a skinny-dip scene in some pond (the ol' swimin hole) where some laughter, splashing and real kid dialog (circa 1958) would have helped develop some audience empathy when they have to separate.

Lucas' relationship with his mentally challenged son offered numerous opportunities to display father/son bonding. Instead it is nothing but unrequited likability. 13 or 14-year old Jimmy Bennett's portrayal of 10-year old John is left in the grayness stumbling his best as the mentally challenged youngest son. His performance is forced at best. It's 1958 and John's hair is near shoulder length giving him a feminine appearance, which is fine if it was somehow addressed via dialog, story line (barbers are afraid of him) or really the script. One could easily suggest that Wakefield allows his son's extra hair because it is a denial of his mentally challenged status, or the hair reminds him of his late wife. Something, anything...? Jon Hamm's Detective Adkins is totally deadpan. We know Hamm is talented; you just need one episode of MAD MEN to understand. His character seems - no, is - totally lost. Adkins memorializes his son's disappearance by keeping the kid's room intact against his wife's better judgment. Here is another opportunity thrown away. While Adkin's son, Tommy, Jr played (very briefly) by Ty Panitz has no - none - nada connection between characters. However, the one flare-up of "real" emotion goes to Adkin's wife, Barbara, played (again, very briefly) by Rhona Mitra when she forces to Adkin's to at least come to terms that their son is dead.

The killer is known by the audience throughout most of the film. Adkin's long-held suspicions are true. The killer in one of the few brief flashes of life explored in this drama admits to Adkins, how wonderful the "killing" made him feel.

I guess little Tommy, Jr.'s body is found as most of the characters walk joyful through the cemetery in the final scene. Joyful perhaps that the filming wrapped that day?

3/10 because the story held great promise, as did the actors based on previous work. And, the editors kept the pace quick and as painless as possible.
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Josh Lucas...nice to watch
MarieGabrielle16 August 2011
Yes, I am biased, but he is definitely a sympathetic character in this film weaving a 1940's child killing to a current missing child case (grieving father well-portrayed by Jon Hamm/"Mad Men"). Hamm is also good here as he shows a different and more human side of his acting ability. In "Mad Men" he plays a slight sexist (apropos for that era, though).

Lucas has three sons, Mark, Luke and John. The youngest child John is autistic (in the 1940's that was clearly a cardinal sin.). When Lucas' wife commits suicide and they are foreclosed on, he must hit the road to find any employment, and give his sons to in-laws to take care of them. His brother-in-law, Jonas is a nasty piece of work and refuses to take care of "the autistic one" John.

Lucas finds construction work with a random group, one ("The Swede", played by Holt McCallany, and one portrayed by James Van Der Beek, nicknamed "diploma").

The peripheral/current story of Hamm and his marital woes with Barbara are rather predictable, though we feel for him becoming obsessed with this 50 year old case of the murdered autistic child John.

Without detailing the outcome, I will say there are some notable performances by Hamm and Lucas here, and the haunting story of missing and murdered children, and how society treats them.

It is also a timely story, children in the U.S. are murdered and missing every day. Highly recommended. If you like this theme you may also like "The Dead Girl" an amazing film about a missing girl and how society treats disaffected people. 10/10.
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7/10
based on factual story from 1957
homlizbiz19 March 2011
At the end of the credits, I always read all the credits after every movie I watch because you learn things, was The Boy in The Box. I researched that and found out that there had been a murder of a small boy, 4 or 5, in rural PA back in 1957 who was found in a card board box by the side of a road. It has never been discovered who he was, and many detectives and others have tried solving the case over the years. He is known as America's unknown child. You can google the boy in the box to read more of this unsolved homicide. Tragic and sad. But after seeing the movie and reading about this case, it was closely related and interesting to see how the movie was loosely based on some of the facts of the real case. I thought the movie was well done.
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8/10
It shows how easily a parents world can just suddenly stop and take your breath away
Ed-Shullivan9 November 2013
Warning: This movie should not be seen by anyone under the age of 16

All parents and teenagers (16 years or older) should watch this movie in an effort to become more aware of your surroundings and to understand that evil predators exist amongst us. In real life, there remains thousands of parents, siblings, aunts and uncles, who have been left wondering what happened to their tiny angel(s) on that one tragic day that seemed to start out just like any other day, when the child was left unattended for just a few minutes only to go missing forever more. This is a tragedy and mystery that occurs every day across North America and we always think it won't happen to our own family.

Stolen Lives is a movie that depicts a series of tragic events that occurred 50 years earlier when a good family man named Matthew Wakefield played by Josh Lucas, who is struggling to find work and keep his three young sons together as a family, makes a critical mistake and leaves one of his sons alone in the car for just a few minutes one evening. When Matthew returns to his car, his son is gone. Frantically he goes to the local sheriff for assistance but due to Matthew Wakefield's impropriety with a married woman on the evening his son went missing, and his son being mentally challenged, the sheriff is not very sympathetic nor interested in determining what happened to this young boy. It is a fact that back in the first half of the last century child abductions were not intelligently nor systematically investigated or documented to assess what we now know was the work and existence of serial killers.

The movie smartly flips back and forth between the fifty year span of the two missing boys initial disappearances. Matthew Wakefield is seen searching for his lost son in the 1950's, and then the scene switches to the current period where detective Tom Adkins Sr is seen searching endlessly for clues into the disappearance of his young and innocent son. The movie provides us with comparisons between the two crimes. Mr. Wakefields lost son disappeared while he was left sleeping in their car, and then the director smartly takes us to current events and the scene flips to a period when an off duty detective named Tom Adkins Sr. played superbly by Jon Hamm takes his young son out to the local carnival for the afternoon and while sitting having some lunch in a trailer type diner he leaves his son alone for just 2 minutes so that he can use the diners rest room. When Detecive Adkins returns to his table his son has completely vanished with no clues, no witnesses, and most importantly, no son.

The message I absorbed from these two tragic events is that child abductions have been occurring by serial killers who if not yet been arrested and that they will continue with their evil crimes if not caught. The outcome of these two tragic events that span 50 years is that families never recover and typically ones own guilt overpowers all other emotions as these crimes of opportunity could have been easily prevented. We as good parents have a certain level of trust and security in our own communities but unfortunately these two fathers were not attentive parents on just a single occasion. As a result of the fathers letting their guard down on just a single occasion they become victims and it causes a series of events that affect their own lives as well as the lives of their their extended families who also fall into despair, wondering and praying for their young angels to return home. Truth is however, that thousands of innocent children who are abducted are never found.

We have recently learned of a few happy endings such as with the two unrelated discoveries of two missing children whose names are Jaycee Dugard and Shawn Hornbeck who were kidnapped and kept in captivity for years before they were eventually found and returned to their families, albeit many years later with their innocence tarnished forever.

Stolen Lives is a movie I recommend to all families as long as their age is over 16. Whether you are married, single, have children, plan to have children in the future, or you are a babysitter minding your siblings, or minding a neighbor's children, please watch this movie. It will certainly hone your sense of responsibility and impress upon all of us how easily a brief lapse in judgement, or a misguided level of trust in humanity needs to be balanced with reality and a higher level of protection for our most blessed gift, our children. Serial killers exist more than we are prepared to comprehend and they prey on the weak and unassuming. This is a great movie with a great cast and the director laid out the movie and series of tragic events over 50 years superbly. Lets always keep our guard up and our children safe from these evil predators.
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6/10
Reasonable story
Sean Hollinghurst13 May 2012
I enjoyed this movie - a good storyline and the acting is good. A little lacking in depth of story though... the "twist" you expect from a good detective movie wasn't really there.

The parts of the movie which relate to the 50's are believable and well re-created.

I'm surprised that James Van Der Beek isn't in more movies - he acted well in this movie - despite my worrying that i was about to have a Dawson's Creek flashback.

All in all, a good Sunday evening movie which can be enjoyed by anyone from teenager and above. Inoffensive and not too confusing.
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6/10
flawed muddle
SnoopyStyle26 October 2016
Police detective Tom Adkins Sr. (Jon Hamm) loses his son Tommy at a country fair. Eight years later, a boy's body is dug up by a construction crew but it's not his missing son. His wife Barbara (Rhona Mitra) is breaking down. The body turns out to be 50 years old and Adkins starts investigating. In flashbacks, Matthew Wakefield (Josh Lucas)'s farm is foreclosed and his wife commits suicide. He and his sons Mark, Luke, and mentally handicap John struggle to find their place in the world.

This is filled with some solid actors. The present day story is dull. The investigation is not compelling although the past is better. Josh Lucas delivers an interesting flawed character. His unraveling throughout the movie is intriguing. The old-man makeup is distracting. It would be simpler to use a real elderly man. The eyes always give it away. This movie is a bit of a muddle that works sometimes but doesn't always add up to be good. The twisty multi-suspects do get tiresome. I wouldn't mind a clear story about Matthew struggling to keep his family together.
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