Lie. Cheat. Steal. Suck.
Wrt. Doug Jung
Dir. James Foley
Str. Edward Burns, Dustin Hoffman, Paul Giamatti, Luis Guzman
Opens April 25th
a formula that one has to follow in order to make a movie
about grifters and con men. It's imperative when making one
of these movies that you follow these simple step-by-step
1) Take One Sexy Con Artist who hasn't shaved in 4 days.
2) Add two or three Subordinate Con Artists, each of whom
has a Special Con-Power (the straight man, the cop, the safe
guy, and what-have-you)
3) Start the movie just as they're finishing one con -- so
the Subordinates can show off their Special Con-Powers, and
the Sexy Con Artist can show off how sexy he is-- and are
about to start the Most Important Con Of Their Lives. The
one that will let them out of the life of crime they all secretly
hate for some reason.
4) Kill one of the Subordinate con Artists, or kill someone
close to the Sexy Con Artist. Have the reaming guys decide
to go ahead with the plan Do-It-For-Johnny-style.
5) Somehow, along the way, the con gets totally screwed
up. The Subordinates Special Con-Powers fail them; however
the Sexy Con Artist, still looks sexy.
6) Kill some more people.
7) And, in the end, have it turn out that the Sexy Con Artist
was (oh my god!) coning everyone, and he walks away with
8) Roll Credits. Make Money.
Almost all grift-flicks follow this formula. House of Games,
The Grifters, Nine Quees, all of them. The trick, then,
is to find some ways to be clever and inventive while adhering
to this strict recipe. House of Games put the whole affair
through the eyes of an uptight psychologist. Nine Queens
kept you wondering which sexy guy with the four-day-old
stubble was the real Sexy guy with the four-day-old stubble,
and which was the patsy, and The Grifters was just plain
slick as shit. Confidence takes this template of a movie,
and does nothing to it what so ever. It's the wonder-bread
of con movies. The characters are all empty; they're not
robust enough even to be considered two-dimensional. They're
one dimensional, a bunch of straight lines. It's like watching
a pile of sticks each trying to trick the other out of millions
Most of the dialogue, and the situations feel trite and
old. Everything's been done plenty of times before, and
usually much better. You really have to wonder why the movie
was made at all. It break no new ground, presents no new
ideas. It's not smart enough to be a psychological puzzler,
but neither is it tense enough to be an action flick.
One black hole of talent
There are some perfectly fine actors peppered throughout
this movie. And they all give washed out performances, to
a man. Dustin Hoffman, for example, is trying to reinvent
himself with sleazily and edgy roles; but if it didn't work
for Burt Renolyds, Dusty, it ain't gonna work for you. Ed
Burns and his rag-tag bunch of crooks look far too Hollywood
to be believed. And Andy Garcia is literally playing a caricature
of himself pretending to be an FBI agent.
One rather uncunning little fox
This movie is about as clever and surprising as Michael
Moore's speech at the Oscars. Much like the speech, there
is a lot of promise to be had, and you really want it to
be smart and insightful, if not for your sake then for the
reputation of all those involved. But, instead, everything
sort of falls flat on it's face. "Shame on you Confidence!
Four broken pencils
Four broken pencils? Now that's a pretty pointless movie!
I'm so funny.
One and a half not-so-smooth, not-so-sexy hipsters
People will probably go see this movie, and probably like
it, there's plenty of sexy red heads and lots of money and
drugs and guns and all those neat-o things. But they're
only liking it because it's a grift-flick, and grift-flicks
are inherently fun. When it comes down to it, Confidence
lacks a soul, and a heart and a brain and all the other
vital organs that make a movie worth watching.