Matchstick Men (2003)

RIDLEY SCOTT

Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBB.   

USA, 2003.  Warner Bros., ImageMovers, Scott Free Productions, Rickshaw Productions, LivePlanet, HorsePower Entertainment, .  Screenplay by , , based on the book by .  Cinematography by .  Produced by , Ted Griffin, , Ridley Scott, .  Music by .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by .  Toronto International Film Festival 2003.

Nicolas Cage and Sam Rockwell play con artists (or “matchstick men” as the title suggests) who trick people into buying worthless water filtration systems and then pretend to be the federal agents who are chasing the men who conned these people out of their dough (thereby gaining access to their bank accounts). Cage, who is full of neuroses and anxieties that include agoraphobia and obsessive compulsive disorder, is enjoying his life of crime well enough until a hitch is thrown into the middle of things: the reappearance of his teenage daughter, whom he hasn’t seen since before she was born. The girl (played endearingly by ) ends up winning his heart, though he gets a little bit nervous about her new found interest in helping out with his line of work. This As Good As It Gets meets Paper Moon hybrid has beautiful photography and steady pacing from director Ridley Scott, but the screenplay is shallow and doesn’t allow the characters much room to breathe. The twist in the end is easy to see miles ahead, and Rockwell’s terrific comedy is criminally underused.

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