Matchstick Men

A Film Review By Jason L. King

Rating: Rated PG-13 for thematic elements, violence, some sexual content and language
Starring:Nicolas Cage, Sam Rockwell, Alison Lohman
Directed By:Ridley Scott

Final Grade:

When I was younger I once thought I was con artist. I started a little betting on football games with my friend’s pool. Between my partner and I we thought we were the coolest things to hit the school. Our plan was simple enough and we after a few weeks we learned ways to set things up so we couldn’t lose. We were rolling in the dough, or well in the middle school that meant a lot of before school candy. Well eventually someone caught on to our little scheme, and tried to beat us at our own game. The lesson I learned was that I wasn’t the little con artist I had thought I was. But that never meant that I stopped wishing I was one. Since my middle school days, I’ve learned that I don’t have what it takes to pull of the biggest con of the year, but I do still enjoy seeing a good con every now and then on the big screen.

Nicolas Cage is back once again as an OCD lunatic con artist named Roy. His obsessive behavior is regulated by the pills he pops, but he often finds himself in nervous twitches, and having strange phobias. Never the less, he is also one of the best Con artists in the business. He can trick an old lady out of $500 bucks with the shake of a fist, and then turn around an con more out of her, by telling her she’s just been conned, but he can help her get it back. His partner, Frank is smooth talking pretty boy with a natural instinct to con the money out of an honest man’s hands and into his pocket. But every con artist has a past, and Roy’s involves a lost relationship and a lost daughter. So when his 14 year old girl appears on his doorstep late one night during the biggest con of his career, Roy has to mastermind his latest scheme while learning how to be a father at the same time.

Cage has an onscreen charisma that works like a charm every time he enters the screen. I would watch Nicolas Cage read the phone book for an hour just because he would find a way to bring excitement to the world of phone numbers. When he is paired with the two other talented people, Sam Rockwell, who is making more and more of a name for himself in Hollywood with every flick he makes, and the lovely young Allison Lohman, Cage sparkles on the screen. The greatest thing about Cage is that he can make the audience love to watch him work. He brings something fresh and new to Roy’s character, and does it in a way that only an actor like Cage could do. Watching any other actor play the part of an Obsessive Compulsive Con Artist would have been a bore, but Cage was perfect for the role. However in the world of acting you also have to give credit where credit is due and Alison Lohman deserves just as much credit. The young girl who plays Nicolas Cage’s 14 year old daughter in reality is only 23 years young, but certainly doesn’t look it in the film. Her pairing with Cage was wonderful, and after a while you actually start to think that Cage and Lohman really do have a Father/Daughter relationship in a slightly dysfunctional family sort of way instead of it only being a movie. Lohman has a bright career ahead of her if she continues to make films with A list stars. My guess is that we will be seeing more of her in years to come, and I couldn’t be happier. She definitely deserves the praise. Sam Rockwell does a nice job of sharing the screen as well, and although his character may not be the most interesting, it gives him a chance to put on a decent show.

Cinematically, while not a masterpiece, Matchstick Men holds it own. Ridley Scott does a nice job of filming the flick with an opaque feeling to it. The film gives Cage’s character and his surroundings a much more Sanitary and dull existence that the rest of the world around him. In contrast they dress up his partner and his daughter in much more vibrant looking colors as if it is a symbol that they are “the color” or the people that spice things up in Cage’s life.

The only problem with Matchstick Men is that it takes a lot of time to get anywhere. The Big “con” isn’t until the very end, and by then they have already carried out a much bigger con, that being Conning the viewer out of an Hour plus of their lives where practically nothing happens. They also toss an ending at you that is either going to wow you, or you are going to see it a mile away, it just depends on the person, therefore I can see a lot of people claiming it to be predictable.

But in the end, the biggest thing about this film is that it is supposed to be fun. It’s not all about being the greatest movie in the world; it’s not all about the money. OK well maybe it is all about the money, but never the less it’s still a decent flick. With some fun performances and a decent story let Matchstick Men con you out the price of a ticket at the box office.

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