Two grifters - boyish, likable Rodrigo and the scheming, cynical Richard - meet by chance. Richard, who has cheated everyone he knows, including his siblings, is missing his partner, so he offers Rodrigo a job for a day. Rodrigo accepts because he has some savings, but needs more to pay his father's gambling debts. Richard gets a call when an aging, ill ex-associate needs help to sell a forged treasury note to a businessman whose visa is expiring the next day, a wealthy man who sees a chance to turn a quick profit buying what he thinks is a stolen document. When the con men have to improvise, Richard asks Rodrigo to use his savings to set up the deal. Is Rodrigo being conned? Written by
An OK Americanization Into a Contemporary "The Sting"
"Criminal" is an adequate Americanization of one of my favorite films of 2002, the delightfully twisty "Nine Queens (Nueve Reinas)."
Adapter/debut director Gregory Jacobs doesn't quite make up for the extra tension that Argentina's financial chaos added as an urgent back drop.
Some of the twists are too smoothly straightened out by focusing more on the older con man, here played by John C. Reilly, and his sister, played by Maggie Gyllenhaal without the original's sensuality, despite her low cut blouse.
Diego Luna is a mite young, but he's cast to turn Reilly's character into more of a manipulative mentor and less an apparent partner.
On its own, without comparison to the original, it's an amusing and workmanlike update of "The Sting" crossed with "The Grifters."
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