Director Anthony Nardolillo’s new film, Righteous Thieves, comes with a great premise to get things going for a worthy story of revenge and redemption. Pre-empting our tale are flashbacks leading up to the moment where Anabelle (Lisa Vidal) makes her entrance into the halls of the Syndicate, a group dedicated to securing and preserving artwork stolen by the Nazis in World War II. Despite failing a previous mission, Anabelle remains adherent to the promise she made to the late Holocaust survivor who once took her in, and with her eye on at least four paintings currently in the possession of a ruthless Nazi art hoarder named Otto (Brian Cousins), Anabelle gathers a team of familiars once more with the help of longtime partner, Eddie (Carlos Miranda).
Soon congregating with their crack team of thieves – Lucille (Jaina Lee Ortiz), Nadia (Sasha Merci) and Bruno (Cam Gigandet) – the team work to tread the terrain in L.A. both physically and digitally to locate exactly where Otto is keeping the four paintings. The planning becomes a bit worse for wear at times with Anabelle soon being discovered as the team only comes to learn the full truth of the mission, forcing Anabelle to the sidelines as the team makes its hard-fought play to retrieve the art from Otto’s high-tech vault before they’re caught, and Otto moves in to collect his “bounty.”
Penned by Michael Corcoran, Nardolillo new heist thriller takes as many of its cues as it can from the likes of Steven Soderbergh and F. Gary Gray titles of yesteryear. The cast delivers palatable performances around but the script oftentimes tries to fit too many things in at once for it to be a consistent presentation. In the backdrop of Anabelle’s mission is the unrequited love story between Lucille and Eddie that sees them arguing about the past or mitigating sexual tension with some forced humor.
Viewers will also have to cope with some misguided CG choices for a smoke-bomb scene, as well as a poorly written and logic-defying action sequence in which a main character can chase down a petty thief using parkour. Another stumble in the film will leave you aghast as a key character’s minor flesh wound is treated like a life-and-death situation, only to be topped off with the magical disappearance of said wound in several scenes later toward the end of the film (you gotta wonder if the actor was staring at it in that very last scene with multiple questions in their mind).
Just about everything else is a little more consistent in terms of characterization, whether its Nadia’s no-nonsense approach to people and choices, or Bruno’s deplorable douchebag behavior at times which the gang treats with a tolerance level that would have some people seething. Lucille and Bruno share the brunt of the action on screen in the second half of the film in several key fight scenes that are affable to the eye, just shy of impressive but serviceable nonetheless.