The Stolen: DVD Review
The NZ set Western has had middling success so far.
From the enigmatic Slow West to the downright average Good For Nothing, it's a genre that clearly has some legs in.
Hoping to cash in on that, are Niall Johnson and writer Emily Corcoran, who've used the Canterbury coasts as their backdrop to the story of Alice Eve's Charlotte Lockton at the end of the 19th Century.
Relocating out to New Zealand with her husband and being trained to use weapons to survive in the wilds, Charlotte gets a rude awakening when they're robbed at midnight, her husband killed and her 3-month-old son kidnapped.
Receiving a ransom note 3 months later with a picture of her son, Charlotte sets out on a dangerous mission to rescue him.
Less Unforgiven, more unforgiveable, The Stolen's problems come from a patchy script, some wooden dialogue and some truly underwritten characters.
While the countryside looks great and Johnson makes great fist of the juxtaposition of both the rugged terrain and the contrast of Eve's porcelain English rose look.
But it's not enough to make parts of the film feel like a slog - even for a relatively short 90 minute run-time.
The tarts-with-hearts that Charlotte journeys across town with are given the most broad-brush cursory backstories with which to work and consequently, there's little to engage with when the inevitable peril sets in.
Chiefly Stan Walker feels majorly under-utilised and predominantly bookends the film with a character that suggests there could have been much more.
Richard O'Brien's Irish barkeep is another oddity in a film which mixes so many different accents in, you can be forgiven for thinking it's not set in New Zealand.
Complete with overbearing OST that blasts out any moment and drowns its emotional edges, The Stolen feels like it's punching above its weight.
Ultimately, with an improbable twist set down in the final furlong, The Stolen's whole feeling is one of something that's betrayed the promise of its mightily impressive premise.
It's disappointing as the setting and the story idea, which could have been better propelled along by revenge and a smash-the-streotype-female lead feels more like it's been squandered.