Jake Vig (Burns) is a consummate grifter about to pull his biggest con yet, one set to avenge his friend's murder. But his last scam backfired, leaving him indebted to a mob boss (Hoffman) and his enforcer.
Jake Vig leads a small Los Angeles based team of grifters, each member who has his specific role in each con: Jake is the main man, Miles the adversary, Big Al the scared innocent bystander, and Gordo the dead shooting victim. He also has in his pockets crooked LAPD detectives Lloyd Whitworth and Omar Manzano who basically play themselves as needed. Beyond getting the money, the basic goal of each con is to ensure the mark is so scared by what has happened - usually being an accomplice in a "murder" - that he won't come back looking for the money. Jake learns the hard way that their latest mark, Louis Dolby, who they fleeced for $150,000, was carrying money for a criminal named King, who takes a no prisoners approach in getting even, he who knows who stole his money. Instead of returning the $150,000 to King, money which he no longer has anyway, Jake convinces King to parlay that money and a bit more into a bigger con against a mark of King's choice, that person being banker Morgan ... Written by
There's this rule in Hollywood that may be unwritten but is nonetheless ironclad: stick to the formula. The hero can't die in a romantic comedy. The drama can't be too funny, and the comedy can't be too sad. Action flicks can't be too deep, and "serious" movies have to be somewhat boring.
On the rare occasions when some movie comes along that breaks these rules, we usually get cinematic excellence. But with Confidence, don't be expecting any deviation from the format. Confidence is a fun, enjoyable, light caper movie. It doesn't pretend to be anything else. And for what it is, it's not half bad.
Edward Burns plays a con man, Jake Vig. Together with his crew of seasoned, confident fellow con men, he scams people out of money. Lots of money. And of course, sooner or later he's bound to pick the wrong person to scam. In this case it's a seemingly innocuous accountant who just happens to work for a mob kingpin, cheesily called "the King" (but played brilliantly by Dustin Hoffman). In a tight spot, Jake agrees to do a con and split the proceeds with the King, to get him off his back. What follows is the usual series of crosses, double-crosses, and triple-crosses while everyone tries to figure out who to trust and who's about to screw who over.
When I say that Confidence follows the rules, I mean it. Crime capers must have wise-talking characters. This does. Crime capers must be stylish. This is. Crime capers must have the token female, whose role is to be sexy but not too sexy. Rachel Weisz fills the part here, and does a decent job at it. (Other such token women included Julia Roberts in Ocean's Eleven, and Angela Bassett in The Score). Crime capers must make the audience scratch their heads trying to piece it all together, but must not make them think about any deeper moral issues of right and wrong. Again, Confidence lives up to that deal on both counts.
Still, it was fun escapist entertainment. And, without giving away too much of the ending, let's just say that I'm always impressed with a movie that manages to surprise me. That alone makes it worth seeing.
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