out of Five
Running time: 98
Enjoyable, if not exactly original film that remains watchable due to some good performances and stylish direction by James Foley.
Con-trick movies are notoriously difficult to pull off – just ask David
Mamet. When they’re done well, as in House of Games, Nine Queens or The Sting, they’re like an elaborate dance, in which the film stays just one or two steps ahead of the audience before performing a dazzling move that sweeps us off our feet.
The audience understands that it’s going to be tricked, somehow – the pleasure lies in trying to figure it out ahead of time and, more often than not, being delighted when we’re fooled. To that end, then, Confidence is an enjoyable, if not entirely original thriller, enlivened by some good performances and stylish direction.
Con Artist In Trouble
Ed Burns plays Jake Vig, a con-artist who’s got himself into a lot of
trouble. As the movie opens, he’s down on his knees with a gun to his head – he has to tell his story in order to stay alive. This means that Burns narrates most of the movie, which serves its purpose but occasionally gets irritating.
Jake’s tale involves his con-artist gang (including Paul Giamatti) and their usual scam of faking murders in order to get their mark to run off and leave their cash behind. The timely arrival of two paid-off cops (Luis Guzman and Donal Logue) usually ensures things go without a hitch. However, when Jake accidentally rips off money belonging to crime boss ‘King’ (Dustin Hoffman), he winds up promising to repay the debt by pulling off an ambitious scam.
To complicate matters further, King insists one of his henchmen be in on the scam and Jake also recruits attractive pickpocket Lily (Rachel Weisz) into the scheme, against the wishes of his team, who insist ‘women are trouble’. And, as if that wasn’t bad enough, Jake’s nemesis, FBI Agent Gunther Butan (Andy Garcia) is also hot on his tail…
Hoffman Chews Scenery
Burns is capable of Affleckian levels of badness but he’s actually pretty decent here, especially when required to be convincingly blank. The supporting cast are good too and Weisz (looking like a 1940s screen siren) makes an attractive femme fatale. However, the movie is neatly stolen by Hoffman’s hilariously manic performance as King.
Although undeniably stylish and colourful, Confidence doesn’t really take you anywhere you haven’t been before, though it’s a safe bet you won’t see every twist coming, thanks to some nifty direction (and misdirection) on Foley’s part.
The important thing is that it all ties together nicely, meaning the audience won’t feel unduly cheated at the end. In short, this is a better than average thriller that’s worth seeing, but nothing special.