Worth A Look: 27.78%
Pretty Bad: 27.78%
Total Crap: 2.78%
6 reviews, 36 user ratings
by Scott Weinberg
I often say that a movie needn't be the pinnacle of originality for it to be fun time. Sure, I often say it late at night alone in my bedroom - so you'll just have to take my word for it. Seemingly inspired by such popular flicks as Pulp Fiction, The Sting and anything presented by the word processor of David Mamet, Confidence is indeed packed to the gills with moments you've probably seen before...yet still the flick entertains in its own right. And wait till you see this CAST!As any devoted film freak can probably attest, the exploits of cinematic con men can often make for some intriguing screenplays. The life of a con artist is logically full of double-crosses, duplicity, and outright bullshit - the sort of stuff that usually translates into film quite successfully. (An adept filmmaker can often dupe his audience much like his characters dupe their own onscreen victims.)
"Makes up for in confidence what it lacks in originality."
House of Games, Traveller, The Grifters - all films that succeed through crafty filmmaking and the sinfully enjoyable antics of the world's craftiest con-men. Now, James Foley's Confidence may not fully belong in those storied ranks but it's certainly brisk and entertaining enough to earn your box office bucks.
Jake Vig is a slick and rather self-impressed grifter. He and his loyal crew make a decent living by staying on the move between their elaborate confidence schemes. Things go understandably South when Jake and Co. swindle a suitcase full of cash from a timid accountant - one unfortunately under the employ the dangerous and ambitiously named King.
When Jake approaces King to make amends it begins an uneasy alliance between sleazy club-owner and desperately frustrated con artist. Under King's direction, Jake and his pals are compelled to pull of one massive bear of a con job.
Needless to say, even the craftiest cinematic swindles inevitably go awry...
Scoring most effectively from its astonishingly eclectic cast, Confidence crackles with rapid-fire (if somewhat familiar) dialogue and a series of predictably unpredictable plot twists before ending with a crowd-pleasingly devious note. Simply put, this is a fun little crime drama (with humor) that may not bowl you over in any way - but it's a tough little flick to actively dislike.
No stranger to massive ensemble pieces (he directed the immortal Glengarry Glen Ross), Foley's film is overloaded with criminally cool actors and the reliable director gives just about all of 'em something interesting to do.
Ed Burns leads the show in full-on Affleck-lookalike mode, creating a cocky and smug character that the audience can't help but admire. Not sure if this work will usher Burns into Matinee Idol territory, but the guy anchors the flick remarkably well.
Rachel Wiesz is in no danger of needing an Oscar Acceptance Speech any time soon (Sorry Rachel! I still love ya!), and this 'smoldering femme (potentially) fatale' role certainly doesn't bring out the actress' best moments - yet she's certainly beautiful enough to keep your eyes interested in what her mouth has to say.
Dustin Hoffman enjoys an extended cameo playing against type as a weaselly and perverted old crime crony. While it's quite a lot of fun to see Hoffman playing a lecherous weenie, one never realy gets the impression they're seeing an actual 'villain'. More like "Dustin Hoffman mean and screaming" yet that's fairly entertaining in and of itself.
About a dozen other likeable pros fill out the supporting roles, most notably Luis Guzman and Donal Logue as two affably crooked cops; the always-awesome Paul Giamatti as Burns' devoted partner in crime; Andy Garcia as a humorously rumpled government agent; and Robert Forster as the con-men's coolly devious quarry.
Yet if the casting director earns a 5-star rating, it's Doug Jang's intermittently spotty screenplay that drags the flick down just a bit. Confidence employs all three of the "lazy screenwriting techniques":
1. Massive over-reliance on constant voice-over narration.
2. Extensive affinity for 'storytelling by flashback'.
3. Telegraphed plot twists. Heck, everyone onscreen is a con man...so you just know the most recent scam is never the last one.
Call it a testament to the fantastic cast and/or Foley's seasoned touch behind the camera, but Confidence succeeds despite the several nitpicky complaints I've cataloged. Like a classic joke re-told by an especially energetic new comedian, Confidence is proof positive that a film need not be unique to be worthwhile.Despite a handful of clear missteps and familiarities, Confidence is still a film I can easily recommend. The con man genre could always use a worthwhile new entry and this one's certainly entertaining enough to warrant a visit.
link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=6808&reviewer=128
originally posted: 04/04/03 14:41:52
|OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 Sundance Film Festival. For more in the 2003 Sundance Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 Philadelphia Film Festival. For more in the 2003 Philadelphia Film Festival series, click here.