Click here 3 and a half stars

Nicolas Cage, Alison Lohman
Two conmen and a babe
Nicolas Cage and Sam Rockwell run a grift
that goes adrift when Alison Lohman shows up

"Matchstick Men"

Reviewed by Carlos deVillalvilla

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A good con movie is one of the finest cinematic experiences a filmgoer can have. Trying to keep up with the twists and turns, the backstabbing and the betrayals can leave one wondering from what direction the next twist is coming. Sometimes they're easy to spot; it's when you get blindsided that you leave the theater feeling envigorated.


Sam Rockwell
Sam Rockwell

If you're interested
John Orr reviewed the novel on which this movie is based, and hated it.

"Matchstick Men" brings "The Sting" to mind? Roy Waller (Nicolas Cage) is a veteran con artist (emphasis on the artist) who has a number of neuroses, chief among them agoraphobia. He has difficulty leaving the safe environs of his comfortable home, but rarely needs to - he has pulled off enough cons to be able to live comfortably the rest of his life. However, he has a partner (Sam Rockwell) with whom he conspires to take a lowlife criminal named Frechette (Bruce McGill) for a big score that will allow Roy to retire and partner Frank to establish himself.

Into this mix comes the daughter Roy never knew he had; Angela (Alison Lohman), who lives with Roy's estranged wife, is a troubled teen who needs direction. She latches onto Roy, who can barely function. She finds out what his profession is and talks him into teaching her how to con. She turns out to be quite good at it. However, as Roy and Frank's con begins to go south, the issue becomes not only protecting himself, but perhaps protecting the family he now can't do without.

Director Ridley Scott goes for a change of pace after his last two movies ("Gladiator" and "Hannibal") to make a quirky comedy. Cage is one of my favorite actors, and he doesn't disappoint here. Rockwell is rapidly becoming one for my list of actors whom I will go and see no matter what kind of turkey they are starring in. He's evolving into an "A" list guy. Lohman is absolutely sensational as Angela. She nearly takes this movie away from Cage, which is a difficult task in and of itself. She's one to watch for as well.

The problem with con-game films is that they often have to take the same road; good-hearted con artist cons bad villain. The reality of the business is that these people prey on the vulnerable and generally have enough sense to stay away from guys who might go after them. Real con artists are generally despicable individuals. Still, it is part of human nature to want to pull one over on someone who deserves it, and that's what makes "The Sting" so dang satisfying. The twist here is not too obvious, but it's not terribly original either. Still, it is sufficient to make the movie a winner.

AT HOME OR AT A THEATER?
Roy would never see this in a theater. Of course, he doesn't have a TV. If he did, he'd see it at home. So should you.


See cast, credit and other details about "Matchstick Men" at Internet Movie Data Base.