Review by Gordon Justesen
Edward Burns, Rachel Weisz, Andy Garcia, Paul Giamatti, Donal Logue, Luis
Guzman, Brian Van Holt, Franky G, Robert Forster, Leland Orser, Morris Chestnut,
Director: James Foley
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Surround
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1
Studio: Lions Gate
Features: See Review
Length: 97 Minutes
Release Date: September 16, 2003
“Playing the big con is like putting on a play. A
play where everyone knows their part, except the mark.”
The art of the con has never felt more seductive than in James Foley’s
ultra cool Confidence. Foley, as some
may recall, directed the brilliant Glengarry
Glen Ross more than a decade ago, and this is his best film since then. It
succeeds in every aspect of a contemporary film noir, with an A list cast to
back it up. The story is perfect for this type film, as it is all about the
process of one con after another to the point where you have no idea when a con
is actually in play. Needless to say, nothing is what it seems.
Edward Burns leads a spectacular cast as Jake Vig, a professional mover
and shaker who, along with his crew, moves from city to city to do only one
thing, pull off the most elaborate cons one could only imagine in a New York
minute, which happens to be Jake’s primary talent. Jake’s crew consists of
the constantly paranoid Gordo (Paul Giamatti), the overly self-confident Miles
(Brian Van Holt), and Big Al (Louis Lombardi). He also manages to have two
corrupt cops (Donal Logue and Luis Guzman) in his pocket.
In the aftermath of a recent score, one of Jake’s cohorts is murdered.
The hit was ordered no doubt by the crime boss that Jake and his boys ripped
off. This particular boss, simply named King (Dustin Hoffman), is not one to
mess around with, but Jake orchestrates a gutsy move; confront the angry kingpin
with a proposition and go in together on a much complicated con which will
generate restitution for King, as well as provide a little something extra on
the side for Jake’s crew.
Although Jake is clearly calling the shots, King instructs two conditions;
he will get to select the mark and he will administer right hand henchman Lupus
(Franky G) to supervise. These terms don’t seem to bother Jake too much, whose
team is upgraded by one when he comes across the sultry Lily (Rachel Weisz), who
carries traits that could easily match Jake’s, making her quite suitable to
join the crew. The plan is to go after a corrupt corporate attorney (Robert
Forster), and steal away 5 million in cash.
The plan seems as flawless as anything conjured up by Jake’s unique
thinking process. However, it doesn’t help Jake that his maneuvering has
attracted the attention of federal agent Butan (Andy Garcia), who has been
tracking the grifter from city to city. Butan, as it seems, is organizing a con
of his own, which will be to nab Jake with the help of the two informant cops,
whom the fed inevitably bribes.
One of the many pleasures of Confidence
is the joy of watching the actors on the screen. Edward Burns, both a noted
actor and a filmmaker, shines in his most superb acting job to date. As Jake,
Burns is endlessly convincing to the point that he can make you believe anything
with a simple facial expression. Jake also serves as the narrator of the story,
which is told in a marvelous flashback style. As Jake is held at gunpoint by a
hit man (Morris Chestnut), he is forced to reveal the facts leading up to the
present. Needless to say, Confidence
has a lot of fun with its narrative style.
As for Dustin Hoffman, this is utter proof of how good he can steal a
movie even in a bit supporting role. Hoffman, creating a character that is
simultaneously funny and scary. King is a psychopathic mob boss with a serious
case of A.D.H.D. To give an example, when Jake is trying to explain something
important, King can’t help but stare at Lily, who’s standing right at
Jake’s side. It’s a remarkable and original character, as King illustrates
that the only thing scarier than an insane criminal, is one who you might have
to tell things to more than once. Here’s hoping Hoffman is remembered next
year at Oscar time.
is one of those rare cases where the perfect ingredients suggest nothing could
go wrong at all. When you have all the elements in check, like a pro director, a
witty script, and a game cast, the title says it all.
First off, let me exclaim that I find this to be the best looking disc to
date from the people at Lions Gate, who’ve managed to exceed the quality of
their stellar presentation of House of
1000 Corpses. The movie is a triumph of pure ultra-slick style, as in the
tradition of film noir, and the anamorphic presentation does nothing short of
engage the senses with its handling of the striking and flashy picture. Image
clarity is at a hundred percent, and the colors are simply astounding,
particularly that of red and green which are used frequently. Dare I say, big
time high marks!
Terrific marks all the way here, as well. The 5.1 mix really kicked in and
surprise me, since I wasn’t really expecting much aural usage on this film. As
I’ve noticed with stylish films of a similar nature, such as Ocean’s
Eleven, sound is a key factor. Lions Gate makes grand use of this track,
delivering the goods in areas of dialogue, set pieces, and most especially
background music, including some killer jazzed up techno beats, for starters.
Truly, one of the better surprises of the year, audio-wise.
Lions Gate pulls no cons in this area. Looking forward to this title, I
had never received any advance word on the extras, so I had no idea what to
expect. To begin with, there are three commentary tracks; one with director
James Foley, one with screenwriter Doug Jung, and one with stars Edward Burns
and Rachel Weisz. Also included are several deleted scenes, a soundtrack
presentation featuring two music videos for songs from the soundtrack, and an
Anatomy of a Scene featurette. Plus, click the Lions Gate logo, where you’ll
find a trailer for this film, as well as a few bonus releases.