By Shawn McKenzie 04/25/2003
Normally I do a little research before going to a movie screening, but I went into Confidence knowing only one thingÖit had Dustin Hoffman in it. For some, that might be good enough, but for me, I was hoping for more. Fortunately, thatís what I got.
Jake Vig (Edward Burns), a talented con artist, has just found out that his latest mark was a bad choice. Along with his crew, consisting of inside man Gordo (Paul Giamatti), shills Miles (Brian Van Holt) and Big Al (Louis Lombardi), and two corrupt LAPD officers Whitworth (Donal Logue) and Manzano (Luis Guzman), they had just conned thousands of dollars from Lionel Dolby (Leland Orser.) They think that they have just made a huge score, but not long after, Lionel and Big Al turn up dead. Jake learns quickly that Lionel was an accountant for a crime boss named The King (Hoffman.) Since the crew has already spent part of the money already, Jake offers to repay The King by pulling off another con against a bigger mark. The mark turns out to be Morgan Price, a banker with connections to organized crime. The King insists that Jake use one of his guys, Lupus (Franky G), in his crew. Jake also thinks it might be good to include a female in the crew, and so he recruits Lily (Rachel Weisz), a brunette pickpocket who had stolen his wallet earlier. The rest of Jakeís crew isnít too happy about this, especially when she shows up for their first meeting with newly dyed red hair, which is a bad omen to this superstitious crew. Their worries prove to be unfounded when she is effective in the first stage of the con, which involves getting to one of Priceís lower-level employees, Grant Ashby (John Carroll Lynch.) Problems start happening when FBI agent Gunther Butan (Andy Garcia), a man who has been after Jake for years, shows up and starts meddling with his con. He also has to deal with one of Morgan Priceís henchman named Travis (Morris Chestnut) and a possible double-crossing partner. With all his talents, Jake is able to stay one step ahead of all of his enemies in order to settle his debt once and for all.
After the opening con at the beginning of the movie occurred, I knew I was going to like this movie. I had been a little worried when I saw Burnsí credit, because he hasnít really impressed me in the past, but even his performance was great here. I usually like Hoffman, but his performance here was particularly memorable, since it was so against type. His villains in the past (Mumbles in Dick Tracy, Captain Hook in Hook) have been cartoonish, but his portrayal of The King is truly slimy. It was fun to see him play a character that he doesnít typically play. It was good to see Weisz in something other than the Mummy movies, and she was great. In addition, even though neither of them had a big part, I also love seeing Giamatti and Logue in anything.
Most other critics might dismiss this movie as a retread of The Sting, but not me. For one, this is a modern tale, as opposed to the nostalgic Ď30s, and it is a team effort, not a two-person partnership. I only had one problem with the movie, and that was the superstitions. The red hair thing and their other superstition about birds were plot points that went nowhere. Iím not a big fan of inserting things that have no purpose to the story.
I always enjoy seeing a good con artist movie, and that is what I saw with Confidence. The performances all around were exceptional, with special kudos to the brief but unforgettable job done by Hoffman. Director James Foley keeps things going at a brisk pace, and it never bores. You can have confidence in my recommendation
of this flick.
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