"Stolen," of all the disappointing movies I've seen recently, had perhaps the greatest potential to be a memorable and heartrending thriller. Shot as two interwoven stories about child abduction, the film has a pleasantly grim feel. And while the main plot points certainly aren't revelatory or new, I found the narrative shot in parallel timeframes to be quite effective and interesting. Add a top notch cast headed by Jon Hamm and Josh Lucas, and I'm not quite sure what went wrong. By no means is "Stolen" a bad movie, it just left me a bit underwhelmed. Even so, it stands as a showcase for a couple of great performances. I've long thought that Josh Lucas was one of our more underrated actors, and it's always good to see him. And Hamm, now at the height of his popularity, brings a believable intensity to the proceedings.
When Hamm's son goes missing at a rural town carnival, there are no leads in the disappearance. Hamm, a local police officer, doggedly pursues the case to no avail. When a child's body is unearthed many years later, Hamm is convinced it's his son. But the body has been in the ground far too long, even though it bears a disturbing similarity to the current investigation. Through flashbacks and alternating timelines, we are then introduced to Lucas decades before--and you know that this story will explain the unmarked grave. And if Hamm can unravel this mystery, it just might help him determine what happened to his own son. Again, I thought both actors did well and both of the stories had grittiness and emotional anguish.
However, the actual mystery is a bit of a no-brainer, not altogether believable, and lacks the impact necessary to drive this tale home to a successful conclusion. I was left with my first reaction of "Duh..." and my next of "OK, so what..." Instead of trying to develop riveting psychological suspense, the end just sort of peters out with testimonials from old people who were only tangentially related to the plot in the first place. This misdirection derails any suspense that might have been generating by over-explaining a mystery we've already solved and no longer care about. Still, if you like the actors, I'd make this a recommendation. I may be a bit hard on "Stolen," but it's only because I wanted to love it. KGHarris, 11/10.