The heist genre received an invigorating shot in the arm after the super success of Money Heist. Prior to the multiple season-spanning bank robberies, we had films like the Oceans franchise, National Treasure, and The Italian Job, which became revered as pulpy cult classics.
In many ways, director Angga Dwimas Sasongko’s Stealing Raden Saleh is a throwback to those campy burglary productions where there were more double-crosses than your average M Night Shyamalan film and where the likeable protagonists weren’t suave gun-toting criminals, but a goofy and motley group of accidental thieves.
The film begins with Piko (Iqbaal Dhiafakhri Ramadhan), a college student, who moonlights as an art forger. His best friend is Ucup, a con artist, and together, they do small-level crimes. However, a sudden need for money makes them take up a huge job involving political machinery, art forging, and the thieving of a national artefact–– the titular painting. For any heist film worth its salt, it is important that the recruitment montage is in place, and it is fun to see Piko and Ucup bring together the right people for the job. Gofar (Umay Shahab) and Tuktuk (Ari Irham) are the getaway drivers, Sita (Andrea Dean) is the mind and money behind the project, and Fella (Rachel Amanda) is the muscle. When a spanner is thrown in the well-devised plan, the film ventures into revenge territory.
Stealing Raden Saleh thrives on its levity. It never forgets that the protagonists are not superheroes. Most of their plans don’t work properly, and it is only individual flashes of brilliance that salvage things. This approach benefits a film that doesn’t shy away from notching up the emotional quotient by breaking into a song montage when the team members are forced to go their separate ways.
The strongest weapon is definitely the comic abilities of the cast, and this is milked to perfection. Although each of their performances are remarkable, the actors work better as a team. While Stealing Raden Saleh is a high-stakes thriller, the treatment of the narrative is rather simplistic. In such films, you must not argue about the logic of certain scenes, and simply go with the flow, as Piko and team charm their way into stealing not just the painting, but our hearts too.
Stealing Raden Saleh
Director: Angga Dwimas Sasongko
Genre: Heist Thriller