Righteous Thieves is the perfect Friday night popcorn action flick. It is a weird one, for sure, but it was a fun movie. I was hooked from the get go and rather enjoyed myself, which may make the 3-star review seem lower than you might expect. That’s because the film is not without flaws.
Let’s start with the really bad – the film’s intro. I’m not sure who decided to lean so heavily into the World War II theme for the opening, but given that it is only applicable to the film’s background, it seemed a little excessive. To further explain, we should discuss the film. In the opening scenes, we see a young Jewish boy running through the forest being chased by a German soldier. Then we jump forward to the 80s and in less than 10 minutes, we’re in present day. Those opening scenes provide the story that drives the film’s plot – a heist crew, backed by a secret Jewish organization, looks to steal art that was originally stolen from Jewish families by the Nazis. The majority of the film takes place in the modern world, so it was very odd to see such an extended film intro centred entirely around World War II.
Now that we know more about the film, let’s discuss the cast. The oddest casting choice for me was the film’s lead, Lisa Vidal as Annabel. Vidal is someone who could probably be typecast and this just wasn’t the role for her. She isn’t an awful actress, but she was the weakest link in the cast. Most of that, however, is due to the way she plays the character. Vidal should clearly be playing socialites or society women, because that was the character she delivered. Her delivery and intonation did not reflect someone who had been a thief for 40 years (as the story establishes). She simply wasn’t believable in the role, which made it really hard to suspend disbelief while watching the movie. Another odd choice was Cam Gigandet as Bruno. Gigandet was perfect for the role he should have filled. However, the character of Bruno was poorly written. Bruno was a complete caricature of the movie tough guy. It was almost impossible not to laugh at some of the dialogue that he delivered. These actors/characters were really odd to me. Annabel was well written, but Vidal didn’t fit the character. Bruno was poorly written, but Gigandet fit the character.
The rest of the cast, however, was amazing. Sasha Merci as Nadia and Carlos Miranda as Eddie were both fantastic in their roles. It was really amusing to me that Merci and Miranda are both rather inexperienced actors compared to Vidal and Gigandet, but they both did phenomenally better job and writer Michael Corcoran did a much better job with their characters than he did with Bruno. The standout star of the film was Jaina Lee Ortiz as Lucille. This didn’t surprise me at all as I was a huge fan of Ortiz when she was on TV in the series Rosewood. I was such a fan of Rosewood that I almost broke my “No Shondaland Shows Ever” rule and watched Station 19, but my dislike of previous Shondaland shows outweighed my appreciation for Ortiz. In this film, however, she delivers the standout performance and is an absolute joy to watch. On top of that, she plays the film’s hacker and does a much better job at using proper terminology than most indie films. I’m not sure who their technical consultant was, but they did a good job.
The other flaw with the film was the sound. This is always a big one for me… it just shouldn’t be this hard to get audio right, but time and time again indie films manage to screw up their sound. In this case, it was just painful with huge shifts in the volume of the scenes and improper focus. In many scenes, it felt like the boom operator failed at their job with the sound pickup just not making sense. Imagine a conference call where one speaker has the microphone under a pillow, another has the mic behind them, and yet another has their mic facing the wrong way… that is how the audio felt from scene to scene. It definitely ruined the movie watching experience for me.
At the end of the day, however, the film was enjoyable and the outstanding character portrayals by Ortiz, Merci, and Miranda made up for the flaws. Righteous Thieves is, when it all comes down to it, a fun heist flick and worth checking out when you’re bored and looking for something to throw on while being lazy. I wouldn’t recommend paying a lot to rent it, but it is definitely worth a watch if you enjoy indie heist films. The film is also clearly set up for a sequel, which could potentially be great if they get a new sound crew and Vidal finds a better way to play an experienced thief, so that she doesn’t feel like a member of the Real Housewives cast.
Righteous Thieves is available in Select Theatres, on Digital and On Demand.
Movie title: Righteous Thieves
Movie description: : In this ultimate heist thrill-ride, Annabel (Lisa Vidal), a leader of a secret organization engaged in the recovery of priceless artwork, assembles a ragtag crew of art thieves to recover a Monet, Picasso, Degas, and Van Gogh stolen by Nazis during WWII and now in the possession of neo-Nazi billionaire oligarch Otto Huizen (Brian Cousins). As the planned heist approaches, loyalties are tested when the crew learns the real reason behind Annabel’s search for the long-lost paintings.
Date published: 2023-03-10
Director(s): Anthony Nardolillo
Actor(s): Lisa Vidal, Jaina Lee Ortiz, Sasha Merci, Paul Kreppel, Michael Fairman, David Gilchrist, Mitch Poulos, Cam Gigandet, Carlos Miranda