There can only be one lesson learned from "Stolen:" Never turn your back on your kid if you haven't taught him to not take candy from strangers. It's almost laughable that a cop's child could be lured away so easily by a creepy old stranger, and it's impossible to believe that a restaurant's patrons wouldn't have noticed their being there. What ever happened to asking the waitress to watch your kid while you go pee?
"Stolen" opens with a distraught Jon Hamm recollecting his child's abduction in an interrogation room. He delivers a quiet, heart-wrenching monologue that proves his exceptional talents beyond the juggernaut that is Don Draper. He plays Tom Adkins, a man without a child who clings to hopes that he still maybe alive. He is a cop too and has a wife that has grown away from him. The movie fails to clarify whether she's the biological mother, but she is all too ready to move on and threatens her husband to do the same, or else. Because of the Swiss-cheese script, it's hard to sympathize with her and you end up disliking her for all the unnecessary anguish she puts her husband through.
Tom is summoned to examine a skeleton buried at a construction site. The skeleton posses eerily similar features to his son and he believes its his until a corner's report reveals that the child is over fifty years old and had a mental disability. We flash backwards fifty years and follow the story of that child and his tragically tragic tale.
The boy's name is John and his disability varies for the convenience of the plot. His father, played by Josh Lucas in another lackluster performance, lost everything and has to move out of his home after a string of bad luck. He takes his three boys to a farm and has to take John somewhere else because his kinfolk don't wanna take in no retarded boys. John's father finds work and trouble a few towns down the road. He rudely flirts with a gas attendant's hot wife and ends up on the wrong side of that gas attendant's gun. His kid becomes a quick chore at work, so he has to find another place for him to stay. One night, he decides to leave his kid in his car while he gives into the temptations of the gas attendant's wife. His kid ends up kidnapped and its revealed that he was killed by a familiar face off-camera. The big reveal is predictable because only one character's head could possibly look like that in a hat.
The movie's narrative moves back and forth between Tom's, John's, and John's father's stories. When Tom finds a clue, we flashback in time and every time we experiences a new revelation, we flash forwards to the present time. These scenes work well as we view an object in close-up and it transports us through time--A small scene with a piece of aging wood was a nice touch.
"Stolen" has a decent style and is well directed in parts. It boasts a great cast with a strong supporting performance by an underused Jessica Chastain. However, the movie lacks focus and doesn't connect the multiple stories as well as other films have done in this genre-- for over half the film, I thought Jon Hamm's character was one of John's brothers, I'm sure I'm not alone. They completely forget about closing John's father's story arch which is a prominent example of lazy film making. The cumulative result is highly underwhelming and feels like its a part of a different movie altogether.
John Hamm's "Tom" is a character that deserves a better movie. He's great and his final interrogation scene rivals his powerful, bulldogging performance in "The Town." He's proven he can play different characters, each as convincing as the next, but his talents are levels above this film.