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Confidence (15)



Review by: Jack Foley | Rating: Two

DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Commentary by director James Foley; Writer commentary; Cast commentary; Cast and crew interviews; Deleted scenes; Anatomy of a Scene.

IT HAS often been declared that one con movie is just like another; the trick being to make the viewer believe they are seeing something different.

With that in mind, James Foley’s Confidence pulls a neat deception, by keeping the viewer consistently entertained without ever seeming too borrowed from movies such as The Sting, or Ocean’s Eleven.

A slick, wordy and effortlessly hip affair, Confidence is very much a triumph of style over substance, but viewers should be having so much fun trying to figure it out, that they won’t really notice.

Ed Burns stars as Jake Vig, a sharp and polished grifter, whose crew has inadvertently swindled millions of dollars from an accountant for Dustin Hoffman’s eccentric crime boss, Winston King.

Aware that this will make him a marked man, Jake offers to repay ‘The King’ by pulling another con - the biggest of his career - at a mark of King’s choosing. But he finds the odds increasingly stacked against him as, first, King chooses to target a ruthless banker, with ties to organised crime, and then saddles him with one of his own henchmen, to ensure there is no repeat of the scam formula.

To complicate matters still further, Jake has to contend with the wayward advances of Rachel Weisz’s ambitious pickpocket, with whom he shares an obvious attraction, as well as the presence of his old nemesis - tenacious FBI agent, Gunther Butan (Andy Garcia), who is determined to get his man.

The ensuing scam, involving corporate loans, creative accounting, wire transfers and offshore accounts, is packed with double cross after triple cross, leading to the inevitable revelations - most of which viewers shouldn’t see coming.

Much of the fun in watching Confidence, therefore, lies in trying to guess the cons before they happen, while the top-notch cast exudes a charisma that is completely infectious.

Burns is better here than he has been for some time, possessing a streetwise cool that enables him to mix it well with the more heavyweight likes of Hoffman and Garcia, while his chemistry with Weisz is particularly effective.

And the support players, including Luis Guzman, Paul Giamatti and Brian Van Holt, bring a great deal of gravitas to even the finest details.

But it is the old-timers who appear to be having the most fun, with Garcia trading well on his no-nonsense persona, even though he may lack the finesse of previous incarnations, and Hoffman, especially, revelling in the opportunity to play a sleazy crime boss who romps away with just about every scene he is in.

The movie is at its most electrifying whenever these two are on screen, with both rising to the challenge presented by Doug Jung’s twisting script, and Foley’s slick direction (which evokes memories of the testosterone-fuelled sharpness of his previous Glengarry Glen Ross).

And even though there are moments when viewers might be able to guess certain outcomes, given that the path towards them remains so well-trodden, Foley’s film remains such a confident performer that they should enjoy being taken along for its ride.

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