A troubled young man finds faith in hokum in 'The River Thief'

It’s entirely fitting that “The River Thief” is an unabashedly faith-based drama — it would take a considerable leap of faith to find many redemptive qualities in this hackneyed, heavy-handed first feature written and directed by YA author N.D. Wilson.

Meet Diz (Joel Courtney), a resentful young teen thief who, although steadfastly refusing to accept handouts, has been stealing his way through the Pacific Northwest towns dotting the Snake River.

But when he hits the mother lode, ripping off a cool million from a crazed drug lord (mixed martial artist Bas Rutten), he finds himself dodging both vengeful cartel types and a dirty cop (Paul Johansson), before finding refuge in the benevolent home of a Bible-quoting, guitar-strumming old man named Marty (Tommy Cash, younger brother of the late Johnny Cash).

Turns out Marty has a granddaughter (Raleigh Cane) to whom the socially awkward Diz takes a shining, revealing to her that his caustic view of the world might have something to do with the fact he was abandoned at birth by a mother who had unsuccessfully attempted to abort him.

Chockful of hoary archetypes making hokey observations (“Just another boy that needs a father”), leading to a truly laughable big-ending reveal, the film, with its wildly uneven performances, underscores the pitfalls inherent in shifting from the written page to the big screen.

As Stephen King once testified, “Books and movies are like apples and oranges.  They both are fruit, but taste completely different.”

It’s a contrast “The River Thief” consistently fails to discern.

------------- 

‘The River Thief’

Not rated

Running time: 1 hour, 27 minutes

Playing: Arena Cinelounge at the Montalban Theatre, Hollywood

See the most-read stories in Entertainment this hour »

photo A troubled young man finds faith in hokum in 'The River Thief' images

photo of A troubled young man finds faith in hokum in 'The River Thief'

Article A troubled young man finds faith in hokum in 'The River Thief' compiled by www.latimes.com

Relax A troubled young man finds faith in hokum in 'The River Thief' stories

'NY84' deftly captures the city and an era in the shadow of AIDS

“NY84” is a bleak but affecting portrait of three Manhattan friends from 1980 to ’84 or, as the film might have it, from a time of innocence to the era of AIDS. French writer-director Cyril Morin’s unconventional, collage-like approach to telling his skeletal story won’t be for everyone, but it’s a

Family secrets torment writer in thriller 'Jack Goes Home'

Writer-director Thomas Dekker’s “Jack Goes Home” turns one family’s dark, twisted past into an invisible monster, haunting the mind of a grief-stricken young man. But while the movie’s artfully made and daringly disturbing, Dekker ultimately overestimates how many sick twists one motion picture

'Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise' In praise of the poet

Worshipful and awed — that would describe the look in comedian Dave Chappelle’s eyes during an exchange with Maya Angelou , excerpted in the new documentary about the late writer-performer-activist, “Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise.” It would also describe the film itself.

Current events extend the border thriller 'Desierto' beyond genre

Mexican filmmaker Jonás Cuarón is known for his collaborations with his father, Alfonso Cuarón, most notably on "Gravity." But the immigration thriller "Desierto" is rooted firmly on the ground. He draws on familiar political issues to infuse the taut, action-packed tale with a simmering tension

More stories

Recent Post

Recent movies