A group of ragtag art thieves are in for the right of their lives in this action packed film from Anthony Nardolillo.
As a teen, Annabel was a thief who in an attempt to steal some artifacts was busted by the owner, Josef Goodman. However, instead of calling the police, Josef gave Annabel a chance to redeem herself by mentoring her in art and prices. This would lead to Annabel becoming the head of Josef’s organization, in which stolen priceless art would be retrieved covertly and returned to their rightful owners. However, upon Josef’s death, Annabel has learned four of his priceless art pieces have been taken and she wants them back to honor him.
The four pieces were stolen from Josef’s family in World War II by the Nazis. A descendant of the thieves, Otto Huizen, now has the art in his possession. He plans to use the art to sell to the highest bidder in an attempt to create a new “Fourth Reich”. Annabel, knowing what’s at stake, assembles her old team to retrieve the art. She brings in expert techie Lucille, fiery Eddie, tough-as-nails Nadia, and a wild card in the form of Bruno, a pawn shop owner’s son who Eddie can trust. Despite learning of Annabel’s intentions and reasoning which leads to tension within the group, the team plans to do the right thing and infiltrate Otto and his group to get the art pieces back.
Now this is quite an interesting concept of a film because it is reminiscent of films like National Treasure, Tomb Raider, the Indiana Jones franchise, and The DaVinci Code, in which art or artifacts become the focus and targets of an individual or team to retrieve it. However, there are those who want the artifacts for their own purposes or even the heroes retrieve it just to prevent the bad guys from obtaining some sort of power. However, in this case here, it is a personal mission for our lead to retrieve art pieces that belonged to her mentor despite objection from other members of the organization.
Director Anthony Nardolillo did something smart and opens the film with a flashback involving Annabel, the leader of the team, as a teen who finds redemption after being caught attempting to steal. Normally, flashbacks like this would be seen as a twist in the middle of the film, but as a setup to the film, it works well. Lisa Vidal is great in the role of Annabel, whose mission to retrieve art pieces from a Neo-Nazi businessman is one of a personal mission as it involves her mentor. It truly brings out the title of the film as it pertains to the team.
The team is quite an impressive force that combines high-tech, infiltration, and action with a bit of comic panache. Carlos Miranda’s Eddie, the second to Annabel, is quite funny at times and we get to see him attempt to rekindle his relationship with fellow team member Lucille, played by Jaina Lee Ortiz. Their chemistry and tension works well as a minor subplot to the film. Making her film debut as tough-as-nail wisecracking Nadia is Sasha Merci, who breaks out well when it comes to her ability to mesh her comedic talents and action. As for wild card Bruno, who better than Cam Gigandet of Never Back Down and Twilight to play a role that gives him a chance to be a smartaleck and in a way, a mercenary looking for a good payday to get out of his father’s pawn shop business.
The action set piece in the third act is quite enjoyable because it contains both firepower and some unexpected yet well done fight choreography. Ortiz gets a chance to show she can do some Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu against some thugs while Miranda gets to showcase the comedic side of an action scene, where he looks tough but becomes more of a punching bag while Merci and Gigandet hold their own with their fight sequences.
Righteous Thieves is an unexpected fun action film that does well blending emotional drama, comic relief, and some pretty good action. The ensemble cast does great thanks to their chemistry, making this one film to check out.
WFG RATING: B+
Lionsgate presents a Broken English production. Director: Anthony Nardolillo. Producer: Jolene Rodriguez. Writer: Michael Corcoran. Cinematography: Robert Benavides. Editing: Anthony Nardolillo and Sean Valla.
Cast: Lisa Vidal, Carlos Miranda, Jaina Lee Ortiz, Sasha Merci, Cam Gigandet, Brian Cousins, Mitch Poulos.
The film will be released in select theaters, on Demand, and Digital on March 10.