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A fine brew of psychological character and crime story. A-
Quinoa198415 September 2003
Ridley Scott and Nicolas Cage deliver some of their best and most intelligent work in a few years, even if Matchstick Men is not quite either's great contribution for this year in film. What they have done, from Eric Garcia's novel (adapted by The Griffins), come off rather entertaining, if anything else, and boasts much more thought than would usually be attributed to such a Hollywood film. Nicolas Cage, who plays Roy, part anxious/obsessive compulsive, part sly con man, and part father to a daughter he never knew he had, is a main reason to see this movie. His performance is on par with someone like Jack Nicholson in As Good As It Gets for watch-ability of a truly sad lifestyle, and while Nicholson's performance was and still is funnier and more charming, Cage gets so into his character, the little mannerisms that pop up more often than expected, that we feel for the guy even as his eyes get twitchy and goes over certain spots in his house like a detective. He may be the most believable obsessive compulsive/con man you'll see in a long while. Add then an outgoing, occasionally sneaky daughter (Alison Lohman in a performance that skillfully balances sweetness and irritability, sorrow and playfulness in a teenage girl) to the mix, along with a protégé-cum-partner (a cool Sam Rockwell) who has a love/loathe relationship Roy, and there's the map work for an interesting, if here and there predictable, drama/comedy/crime film.

Along with the performances, which are all above average (Cage could be deserved of an Oscar nomination come February, and Lohman could deserve the win possibly), is the visual framework that Scott pushes in each scene. By getting certain camera tricks, and fantastic editing by Dody Dorn (of 'Memento' fame), the viewer can really get into Roy's head even in the smaller scenes, the ones that have little to do with the plot and only to do with the neuroses of Roy (there is even a little touch that I loved when Roy is waiting online early in the film at the supermarket, and the music in the background is an excerpt of the mental hospital music from 'Cuckoo's Nest'). This echoes the style that Scorsese used in Bringing out the Dead, also with Cage, in moving the film to get so into the mood that the story, no matter how intriguing and important, becomes secondary.

Which brings me to my own personal beef with the movie, and that is the last fifteen minutes or so. It was clever, up to a point, but as it unfolded, no matter how much I was still emotionally involved with these people, I felt that the twists (I won't reveal them here) undermined a lot of the rest of the film. It will be based on viewer to viewer, but I just thought that it did a little too much to jab at Roy's lifestyle. And yet, when I walked out of the theater, though I wasn't sure I had seen anything spectacular, I didn't feel like I had wasted time and money either. Matchstick Men is witty, sometimes wonderful moviemaking.
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Nice change of pace for Ridley!
supertom-324 February 2004
The latest effort from Ridley Scott equates to Spielberg's latest, Catch Me If You Can. It is a nice, technically simple film that follows their more epic, effects, and set piece driven movies preceding them. Spielberg followed Minority Report and AI, whereas Scott is following Gladiator, Hannibal and Black Hawk Down. It is a nice and welcome change of pace for a master director, as CMIYC was to Spielberg.

The film stars Nicholas Cage, who is making up for some lost years thanks to his role here and of course in Adaptation. Cage plays an obsessive compulsive con man who has an obsession of cleanliness and a fear germs and wide open spaces, and is hyped up on prescription drugs. Cage is superb here, it is a great performance, amusing and likeable. This is the sort of quirky character that brings the best out of Nic Cage. Co-starring as Cages partner in crime is the up and coming Sam Rockwell. I have been a fan of his since I first saw him in Charlie's Angels and then in his best role thus far in Confessions Of A Dangerous Mind. He was superb in Confessions and looks like he could be a top new star. Rockwell plays his character here with panache. Also starring as Cages daughter who turns up out the blue is Alison Lohman. Lohman is playing a 14 year old, who Cage has never seen and didn't know of at the start of the film. Lohman is much older in real life and so playing a 14 year is something she can do well but with the maturity and actress of that actual age may not have. Lohman is a lovely presence, she is charming and sweet and endearing to the audience, she is also a good young actress.

The film is funny, charming and simplistic. It doesn't tax too much and is a quick and pleasant, much like junk food, only more good for you. I love it when Scott does his big epic and more elaborate films but this is a good change of pace, that Scott must have really enjoyed. It is something he could do with his eyes closed compared to say Gladiator.

The film is well paced and there is a great twist that lets the film end on a real high. This is a good use of a great cast, and imaginatively edited. Overall a pleasing viewing. ****
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Sustained my interest throughout
MovieAddict20168 February 2006
Roy (Nicolas Cage) has some problems. He suffers from obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic attacks, and gets totally hysterical when people leave doors open, don't take off their shoes, get mud on his carpet, etc. He takes pills for the many problems, but he accidentally knocked them down the garbage disposal and is a big frantic mess now, complete with nervous ticks of the face and exclamations of "mmm..." at the end of his sentences.

That's a problem that severely interferes with his job as a con artist. He's not a con man, he's not a rip-off man, he's a con artist, with added emphasis on the "artist" part. He views his job as a beauty, a sort of majestic way of expressing himself, but not really, that's a lie, it's just something that makes him sleep better at night.

He hates his job because it makes him feel dirty. It's not fun ripping off old people or fat people, but he is a high school drop out, how else can he get a decent paying job?

His partner, Frank Mercer (Sam Rockwell), is a bit more at ease than Roy. He doesn't seem to mind his job all that much. Roy, on the other hand, is turning into a complete nut, and after going to a recommended psychiatrist, he musters up the courage to confront his 14-year-old daughter, Angela (Alison Lohman), who is eager to escape her controlling mother and check out her long-lost big pop.

The film has a lot of different stories going on -- the worry-wart who learns to put aside his nervous ticks, the long-lost father who reunites with his daughter, and the con artist who tries to give it up for a normal life. They all succeed as a story, but the film's only flaw is its wandering, which goes on far too long.

Who cares (and I mean that as a statement, not a question). The film is one of the great entertainments of the year. It has twists, turns, and a big streak of enjoyability running through it.

Nicolas Cage is on a winning streak. First 2002's Oscar-winning "Adaptation," now this (rumored to be entered into the Oscar race for 2004). Who would'a thunk it?

Sam Rockwell ("Confessions of a Dangerous Mind") continues to impress, while Alison Lohman (a 20-something actress playing a teenager) shines and convincingly portrays exactly what the character needs.

Ridley Scott ("Alien"), the infamous British director, uses some great camera techniques here -- filmed in a blue shade with lots of different camera flashes, he subtly forces the audience into Roy's head, especially during sequences when Roy is having little breakdowns and the people and objects around him start moving at warp-speed.

I'll admit that I'm a big fan of con man movies because I find them amusing. But "Matchstick Men" is not really a con man movie -- it's a movie about a con man who has to cope with his job and private life. And a movie about a con man who finds he has a daughter. And a con man who gets conned. It's all enjoyable, and though the film is long, I never felt very bored by it at all -- it sustained my interest throughout its running time. That's rarer and rarer nowadays.
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Good vehicle for Cage's acting ability
kieran-wright9 July 2009
After recently having the pleasure(?) of viewing one of Cage's latest offerings - 'Bangkok Dangerous', - I approached this one with a sense of confidence, as it already has such a great reputation. Ridley Scott - the renowned director of Bladerunner - has made a film of quite a different genre, so a real departure from his usual stuff, but I have to say he has come in with what I felt to be a very watchable film with some pretty complex characters thrown in. Nic Cage gets to display a good range of his acting skills. He really is the master of the facial tic as anyone thinking back to some of his earlier films (such as Vampyr's Kiss') will recall. To those who scoff at his recent choice of projects e.g. G-Force, just remember, he is an actor. You take the work while you can. Anyway, to summarise, for me, above all, this film was refreshing as all of the actors acquitted themselves really well. A polished piece of cinematography that I will definitely enjoy viewing again.
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Nick Cage is awsome!
tpcomputerman20 September 2003
Reviewing a movie like Matchstick Men is tough because it's a con movie and as such I really can't go into the plot all that much. So, I'll just give a quick little synopsis of the plot, but really if you've seen any trailers for the movie, you know the plot pretty well.

Nicolas Cage plays Roy, a con man (or, as he likes to say, a Con Artist!) who has a lot of problems. For one, he's a compulsive cleaner, he hates the outdoors and he has lot of ticks Roy needs medication to keep him sane.

One day he knocks his pills into the sink and when he calls his doctor to get more he finds out that his doctor is no longer in town! This provides one of the funnier/saddest part of the movie. I'm not sure if it was suppose to be played up for laughs or not, the tone was kind of hard to tell, but Roy spend the next day and a half cleaning his house, his ticks got worst and well it made me feel kind of bad for him.

His partner Frank, played by Sam Rockwell provides him with the number for another psychologist who can help. Roy goes to the psychologist thinking that it'll be easy, to just ask for the pills and he'll get them. No, this guy wants to help Roy and will not give him any pills until he talks. Which, I must say, shows two things. One, Nick Cage is great when he plays these type of rolls, and two, he's damn funny. What he tells the psychologist was both funny and sad. During that time though it's reviled that Roy was married at one time, and when his wife left she was pregnant and he doesn't know what happen to the child who would be 14 by now.

After getting the pills (only a weeks worth mind you) Roy decides to find out about his daughter, but he can't because he's too scared, so after getting the number of his ex wife he asks his psychologist to make the call when he can. Later that night he gets a call from him and finds out that he has a daughter who wants to meet him.

That's as far as I'll go with the plot because the movie really picks up from there as he bonds with his new daughter and sets up a really complex and dangerous con.

Like I said, Nick Cage is great in the movie, but I also want to point out that his daughter, Angela (played by Alison Lohman) was just fantastic to watch. She really lit up the screen when she smiled and it looked like Alison Lohman was just having a ball playing her. She was your typical 14 year old (only, and this shocked me when I found out, Alison Lohman is 24 years old! If you watch it, keep that in mind and tell me she doesn't look like a 14 year old.) who knew just how to work her dad! Some of the funnier moments came after he would yell at her, then she'd start to cry and Roy would just completely collapse and start apologizing for what he said, even if he was completely right! It was just really funny.

Matchstick Men isn't a fast paced movie, it's more of a character study between Roy and Angela and how she changes his life and makes him reprioritizes his values and the way he runs his life.
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Plenty of Swagger
C22Man27 June 2016
Matchstick Men represents a pleasant change of pace for Ridley Scott. For a director known for doing films that are both large thematically and in scope, it's nice to see him tackle a film that has a simple premise which allows him to build the themes that he wants to discuss. Matchstick Men is a difficult film to categorise, as is the case for most con films. It has touches of dark comedy and pieces of crime thriller, plenty of drama without losing its quirkiness. It often plays out like a character study of a man who struggles to balance his dirty deeds with his mental issues. All of this delivered in a very free-flowing and vibrant way, much like the majority of Scott's work.

At its core the film is about con man Roy Waller who suffers from serve OCD which become even worse once he loses his pills, shown in a scene that is both funny and sad where he spends a day cleaning his entire house. He then goes to see doctor who takes an interest in his life and wants to help him defeat his illness. Cage is the star centrepiece of the film. He also provides one of his best performances. In a way it is prefect casting, Cage has always been at his best playing edgy and jittery characters and here he gets a legitimate reason to act that way. His performance provides a surprising amount of sympathy as well as humour, he gets so into the character that his frequent ticks seem natural.

The story develops further when it turns out Roy has a 14 year-old daughter called Angela who he decides to meet, which leads to him struggling to balance out both sides of his life. Enter Alison Lohman who is fantastic. It's hard to believe that she is playing a character ten years younger than she was at the time given how natural her performance is. She manages to capture the essence of what a character that age would be like, without detracting from the emotional weight and likability that she brings. I also think that Sam Rockwell (who I swear has never put in a subpar performance) deserves some praise for his role as Roy's confident business partner.

It is tough to reveal much more about the plot without giving away pieces of information that might spoil its ending. Scott's direction is certainly a highlight, as usual with his films. It is possibly his most fluid film and he manages to convey Roy's breakdowns with his subtle use of the camera, whilst the frequent use of blue shade invokes the calmness of water which becomes something of a motif. From a visual standpoint the film reminded a lot of 'Catch Me If You Can' given its vibrancy and colour scheme. Adding to this is both the editing and the transitions which are seamlessly done. Hans Zimmer's score is also worth a mention, trading in his usually bombastic compositions for more jazzy and bass heavy pieces that fit the film perfectly.

The only part of the film that left me cold was its climax and its eventual twist (which I won't reveal). For me the twist did disrupt a lot of the film's emotional and grounded aspects that had been developed excellently throughout. It brings a jolt that almost pushes you out of the film and instead of feeling that the twist transformed the film into something completely different, it simply felt like an unnecessary addition. I think the film would have been even stronger had it avoided said twist all together.

Matchstick Men ends up feeling exactly like what Ridley Scott wants it to be. It's a film that blends multiple genres together and basically plays them off against the typical con man film style. It does go deeper than the story initially suggests, almost working as a psychological study of Roy and the building of his relationship with the daughter he never knew existed. On a surface level however, the film is constantly entertaining. Whether it is for the excellent acting, the charming central narrative, the tension building con or Scott's wonderful direction it doesn't really matter because all of these aspects blend with and play off of each other so well. I don't think the twist works, but it's a testament to the films strength that it isn't overly damaged by that. For me it's a film that is meant to be enjoyed on the surface, before you start to analyse what is underneath.
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Surprisingly nice...
paul_haakonsen19 December 2015
I just happened to come across this movie while it was showing on TV, and I decided to actually sit down and watch it, even though it is a Nicolas Cage movie. And having seen it now, I must admit that I was more than pleasantly surprised with it.

This was, hand on Heart, actually the best of all Nicolas Cage movies that I have seen so far. Why? Well, because of the movie's riveting storyline, but more importantly because Nicolas Cage delivered the best performance of his entire career in "Matchstick Men".

The storyline in "Matchstick Men" is gripping, interesting and fast paced. More importantly, though, there are some nice change of events and plot twists along the way. I didn't see those surprise twists coming before they were actually revealed on the screen, and that kind of non-predictability is good.

The acting in the movie was really good and helped further the movie quite nicely. Especially Nicolas Cage was in his ace corner here with this particular oddball character. But also Ram Rockwell and Alison Lohman were delivering good performances.

"Matchstick Men" is a very interesting movie that is quite good and should be seen, even if you, like me, are not particularly much of a Nicolas Cage fan.
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Start and end very good
rbverhoef30 September 2003
The little problem that 'Matchstick Men' has is that there is not a real highpoint in the movie if the ending wasn't there. I think the movie starts as a very good movie. Roy Waller (Nicolas Cage) and Frank Mercer (Sam Rockwell) are con artists and the movie opens with showing how they collect some money. It is not as great as how George Clooney does it in 'Out of Sight' but it's a lot of fun. After this the movie shows who Roy is, a guy with all kind of weird things. Spasms, panic attacks, compulsive behavior. He wants things clean, he wants things a certain way, or he becomes a little crazy. He has pills for these things but he loses them and this is how he meets Dr. Klein (Bruce Altman), a psychiatrist.

Because of him Roy learns he has a 14-year old daughter Angela (Alison Lohman, who was actually 24). He wants to care for her, spend time with her, and even reveals what he really is. In a great scene she shows her father and us how she would be if she had the same job as Roy. Roy and Frank have a big job planned where they would collect 80,000 dollars from a guy named Frechette (Bruce McGill). In a way they are taking money but Roy looks at it differently. He thinks, and he is actually right, that they just give it to him. Because it is all illegal they can't complain after they are cheated.

Hoe these three big stories fit in one you have to see for yourself. The middle part is a little slow, but the ending makes up for that. All characters are played very well and Nicolas Cage is great. Ridley Scott has made another fine movie.
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One of Cage's Best
hiddenattacker20 July 2005
Nicolas Cage plays Roy, a con artist, who has numerous psychological issues. He is an obsessive-compulsive con artist, with an insane need for neatness. Roy also suffers from agoraphobia, yet despite these problems, is an efficient con man. Much like in Luc Besson's Leon (1994), Matchstick Men adopts the same theme of a criminal figure taking in a young female apprentice. Although after the exciting exposition the film has a rather drab middle, the conclusion is stunning. This film is one of Nicolas Cage's finest, whom I have long questioned as to ability in acting. Alison Lohman does a fine job as Angela. Due to the spectacular finish, I am going to give this film ***1/2 / **** or 8/10.
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Great Movie! - Intriguing characters
qmacaulay26 February 2004
I found this movie exciting & fun to watch from beginning to end. The relationship between father & daughter was extremely heartfelt and made the movie tops in my books. Amazing performance by Alison Lohman; I can't wait to see her in Big Fish. One of Nicolas Cage's better performances. In retrospect the plot is a bit far-fetched but makes up with excellent character development and emotion. Perfect movie for a father/daughter to watch together. I easily give it 9/10.
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"Uuuuh, uuuuh… PYGMIES!"
arenatomoreira3 December 2015
Matchstick Men tells the story of con artist Roy Waller (Nicolas Cage) and his protégé Frank Mercer (Sam Rockwell). The status quo of their work is disrupted when Angela (Alison Lohman), the daughter that Roy never knew he had, bumps into his life.

Cage's performance as Roy is definitely the reason why you would want to watch this movie. He got very into character, a con artist with unique psychological traits where agoraphobia and OCD do not cover it all. Throughout the movie it's impossible not to feel for Roy when his eye twitches or whenever he has a nervous breakdown. This is most likely going to be the best obsessive-compulsive character performance you'll see in a while. Roy's organized and simple life is disrupted when a smart and outgoing daughter shows up, somewhat out of nowhere. Lohman's performance as Angela could be described as a unique balance between "lovable young lady with parent issues" and "sneaky little brat that wants things her way", resulting in a very solid performance (note that she was 24 at the time, 10 years older than her character). Frank, Rockwell's character, is an eager protégé trying to convince Roy into going for big hit, instead of the usual "simple is safe". Frank's passive-aggressive patience to deal with Roy's shenanigans adds a hint of comedy to the movie.

The relationship between Roy and Angela actually remembers Leon, the Professional (1994) at some point. It's always refreshing to see small homages to certain movies – and this one by Scott and Cage is a refreshing, 9 year gap fill. Also, two other things should be mentioned. First, the small but decisive aspect that Roy always uses matchsticks to light his cigarettes, overlapping a character performance with the title. Second, it's based on a novel by Eric Garcia, with the same title as the movie.

An overall brilliant performance from these three characters and starting plot would be more than enough for anyone to watch this piece. However, the plot twist at the end, even though it's not that predictable, could be disliked by many (me included). Still, it's a movie worth watching, and one that I would recommend given Cage's performance and character.
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Nic Cage's greatest acting
nixskits13 December 2009
I know he won an Oscar for another film (don't get me started on that!), but this performance is really the one I regard as his crowning achievement. He's so convincing as a man who's totally out of control even when he appears to be in control that it's like a spinning top which doesn't really look like it's moving fast at all.

Sam Rockwell and Cage are partners, if you can call Cage's tic laden role a man who ever really connects with anybody at all. They con for a living and are quite accomplished at the game. So when his new challenge, a teenage daughter he had no contact with up till now, enters and shakes up his OCD world, this walking, talking repetitive routine he calls life gets flipped over into something resembling a normal existence.

The great Bruce McGill appears as someone you don't want to cross, unless it's out of his way to avoid the inevitable trouble. He fakes humbleness and charisma perfectly until the cobra he really is gets uncoiled and strikes.

This is an odd choice for Ridley Scott to direct. I'm glad he made it, as this film is as great socio-comedically as "Blade Runner" was poignantly techno-emotional. "Matchstick Men" gets under your skin, in funny and tragic ways, usually simultaneously. There really are men out there like Cage's Roy, as disturbing as that might be. Here Cage gets to be a three dimensional person and not just the human function of a lame action formula.
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A fascinating and wonderful performance by Cage.
bobsgrock28 September 2008
Nicolas Cage outshines practically everybody around him in a remarkable performances as Roy, a brilliant con man who has pulled off dozens of jobs which is amazing because he suffers from agoraphobia, germophobia, and multiple other psychological diseases. Sam Rockwell does nice work as Frank, his mysterious protégé, and Alison Lohman is also terrific as the young girl who finds her way into Roy's life when she tells him she is his daughter.

When looking to rent this, I was kind of excited because it looked to me like a Steven Soderbergh-type movie with plenty of twists and turns like the Ocean movies. However, the great British director Ridley Scott oversaw this and it has a great, hip look as well as an ingenious script from Ted and Nicholas Griffin. If you like con movies, stories about people with mental disorders, or you love the work of Nicolas Cage, Matchstick Men works on all those levels.
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One of the year's best.
macrths1 April 2006
The amazing thing about Matchstick Men is that it shouldn't have worked. It tells three stories: primarily the story of a brilliant con artist. It also tells the story of a man driven by germofphobia (fear of dirt), and the story of the relationship between a man and the daughter he never knew he had. The protagonist of all three stories is Roy Waller, played by Nicholas Cage (in an Oscar-worthy performance, I might add). I've always admired Nick Cage, but in this film he outdoes himself. The three stories should contradict according to their nature. The three characters do contradict, but at the same time contain a certain unity. Cage plays all three roles effortlessly and convincingly. In a film where a lot of actors would have gone over the top he finds the right notes. There are scenes where tow and even three of the same characters emerge at one time. He finds the balance where a lot of actors wouldn't have. He is intense, subtle and ruthless all at once.

The script, too, is Occar worthy, so absorbing that even when it goes off track it still manages to keep you interested. Sam Rockwell lends a convincing performance as Roy's partner, Frank, and Allison Lohman is equally entertaining as Angela, the daughter, who winds up wanting to be too much like her dad. The chemistry between these characters is there. They speak in convincing dialogue that shows who they are while propelling the plot forward.They manage to be likable even though by nature we wouldn't feel comfortable leaving a five-dollar bill anywhere around any of them.

On a final note, I would like to comment on the last scene. Without giving anything away, I would just like to mention the many ways that it could have flopped, or given a final plot twist for the viewer. It could have been bitter of hurtful, but Ridly Scott is smart enough to know that, and the scene is done in such a fashion that we understand, without being outrightly told, that this movie ends in the only way it possibly could.
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Saw it coming
jmissirlis121 March 2004
I'm usually pretty oblivious in movies with surprise endings because I get caught up in them, but I figured out the ending right after the Dr. called and he met the daughter on the street. I don't know why I figured it out but I did. "Dammit" I said to myself and hoped for the remainder of the movie that I was wrong. I thought I may be wrong when so many other characters go involved, but they were all "in on it", which by the way was ridiculous. Nothing is worse than figuring out a surprise ending or an ending that ruins the entire movie. For me both happened in Matchstick Men. Just my opinion so don't sweat it.
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Doesn't live up to its full potential
kyle-cruse30 September 2008
I found "Matchstick Men" to be an enjoyable film, starring Nicolas Cage as an obsessive-compulsive con artist whose life is changed when his teenager daughter (Alison Lohman), whom he never knew existed, walks into his life. This part of the film manages to entertain well, and Lohman's rebellious yet sweet personality comes off as a very appealing character and adds enjoyment and emotion to this film. Cage starts to turn his life around as this change in his life occurs, another positive element to the film. I also enjoyed the scenes with Lohman being taught how to steal, and these parts added some bits of humor to the film. The problem with this movie, however, is the number of unnecessary plot twists that start occurring toward the end. This film has been labeled as a comedy, which is not completely true. There is much more emotion and drama than comedy in this film, which is not really a benefit here. I won't spoil the plot twists, but some of them are very strange and unusual. The film would have been better, in my opinion, if it had stuck to a simple plot rather than trying to over-complicate the events of the story. It was a sweet, entertaining film, until everything started changing. The twists do add a sense of intelligence to the film, but it would have been much better if it stayed predictable and simple. Not a total waste of time, but could have been better.

*** out of ****
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Good movie about con artists
Maziun1 November 2013
You shouldn't expect some kind of masterpiece from this movie just because Ridley Scott is directing it . One could wonder what interested Scott in making this movie . The story here is good and interesting , but hardly spectacular in terms of screenplay. I guess he just wanted to do a fun movie.

"The Matchstick men" relies heavily on Nicolas Cage . The whole movie is concentrated around his character – Roy , who suffers from many phobias . He's the heart of the movie . It a lot of fun to watch how he struggles with even the simple things like opening doors . Yet the movie doesn't make constant fun of him . We care about him , because we see how painful his life really is . Everyday for him is an adventure. It's get even more complicated when a new face appears in his life.

Nicolas Cage is great . He might not be a best actor in the world , but if you use him wisely and cast him in adequate role he won't fail. During his career Cage has shown that he's really good in playing neurotic , troubled characters that don't fit in the world – "Birdy" , "Leaving Las Vegas" , "Adaptation" and now "The Matchstick men" . You could say he's overacting sometimes , but it fits his character here perfectly.

I must praise Alison Lohman . I didn't knew she was a adult woman ! When you look at that 15 year old girl you won't believe she's played by an adult . She brings a lot of innocence , charm and joy into her character . A great performance too . Sam Rockwell is also nice here , but is easily overshadowed by Cage and Lohman.

The story mainly concentrates on Cage's disease and his relationship with Lohman . Those are the two most interesting aspects of the movie. The rest is a standard enjoyable bunch of twists you could expect from a movie about con artists.

„The Matchstick men" is a solid movie about con artists . If you like this kind of stuff you won't be disappointed . It doesn't really stays with you and there is no need to see it again , yet it provides a solid entertainment. I give it 7/10.
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Good entertainment but what a letdown!
Deadman23 September 2003
This move had such potential ! I think Nicholas Cage will be nominated for his performance. The movie is intelligent, entertaining and emotional. It is high art, in my opinion, up until the surprise ending. I understand the effect the writers were going for, and they made a point, but up until the ending I cared. I cared about the characters and the father-daughter relationship. Then, suddenly, I didn't anymore. I got caught, I got the point, but because of the ending the movie missed raising itself above just good entertainment.
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Dumb, slow, and predictable
eddy_currents2 July 2004
There were some funny parts, and the acting especially from Cage was terrific, but overall the movie was boring and predictable. The action is soooo slow that you have lots of time to ponder what is going to happen. That's a bad thing. I had most of the ending figured out halfway through the movie. The ending was no surprise. In fact, it was a letdown because I was hoping for more.

The dialog was good, but the plot was weak. The director and scriptwriter should have taken the time to plug some major plot holes. Why didn't the master con artist smell the big con around him? I did. Why would he trust strangers with everything of importance to him? Why did he do everything they expected him to do? His daughter said it was her first time gig -- so why was she so good at it?

The movie ended with a whimper. I was expecting some kind of twist, or maybe some kind of retribution, but instead we got a weak scene with a kind of moral message wrapped in it.
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Good premise, weak execution
kylopod3 November 2005
I expected to like this film. I enjoy movies about con artists, and it looked to me like a return to the quirky types of roles Nicolas Cage used to do back in the '80s. Ever since his rise to stardom, he's frequently been cast in roles where--to me, at least--he has seemed oddly out of place. This is probably because he has an air of unconventionality to him, which often clashes with the tone of what he's in.

So when I heard that he was playing an agoraphobic, obsessive-compulsive con man who discovers he has a teenage daughter, I was sure this film would be my cup of tea. It was getting good reviews, and it sounded like an interesting premise, one that cuts across genres. That, unfortunately, turns out to be the main problem. The film tries to do too many different things, and they cancel each other out.

We can start with Cage's character. He's shown as a socially inept individual with lots of tics and stammers, a man so fearful of the outside world that he has trouble leaving his own house. The notion that a guy like this could also be a seasoned con artist doesn't ring true. When we see him working, he seems marginally competent at best, and his scams aren't particularly clever or inspired. Maybe I'm spoiled after seeing "Catch Me If You Can," a movie that shows what true brilliance in this profession can look like. But even con artists of lesser skill usually know how to adapt to new situations, a trait this character does not appear to possess. On the contrary, the first scam we see him pull off, he nearly blows. How did this guy stay in the business for twenty years, with as much success as he's said to have had?

Not only is it hard for me to believe that he'd be capable of working in such a venue, he doesn't even seem the type who would want to. He has too much of a conscience, as becomes evident when he develops a relationship with his newfound teenage daughter, played by Alison Lohman. I realize the point is supposed to be that the Lohman character is bringing out feelings in him that he didn't know he had, but from the beginning he seems too moral for his own good. If he's irresponsible, it's not because he doesn't care, but because he's overly absorbed in his own problems. Some of his scenes with her are entertaining, but ultimately they don't go anywhere satisfying. All the film achieves in the end is plot manipulation.

Perhaps Cage was not the right choice for this role after all. I can think of several actors who might have done a better job. One that springs to mind is Bill Murray. He played a severely phobic character in "What About Bob?," and while his performance in that film was over-the-top, he has shown from his other work that he can reign in his comedic talent when he needs to. He's also good at playing conning types of characters, exhibiting a smoothness that Cage lacks. He would have been perfect for this role, as would have many other actors. It may not have saved the entire film, but it would at least have provided a more convincing starting point.
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Enjoyable with good performances
blanche-25 March 2009
A con man meets his daughter, who complicates his life in "Matchstick Men," a 2003 film starring Nicholas Cage, Sam Rockwell, and Alison Lohman, and directed by Ridley Scott.

Cage plays an obsessive-compulsive con artist, Roy Waller, who works with a partner, Frank (Rockwell). They're very good at what they do and are successful. When Roy runs out of medication, he goes to a psychiatrist (Bruce Altman), who requires him to have a session before he can get any medicine. It comes out that Roy suspects that he has a child with his ex-wife, Heather, whom he hasn't seen since she was two months pregnant. He presses the doctor to call her and find out about the child. The psychiatrist informs him that he has a 14-year-old daughter, Angela (Lohman). Angela and Roy take to one another, which leads to problems when Roy and Frank are working an important con.

This is a really wonderful film with excellent performances by Cage, Rockwell, Lohman, Altman and Chuck Frechette as a con victim. The actors have been given top direction and an exciting and surprising script by Nicholas and Ted Griffin, based on a book by Eric Garcia. The story holds interest throughout, and you're not prepared for some of the twists and turns that it takes.

Truly a must see, highly entertaining.
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Neat character-piece disguised as a con-movie
Flagrant-Baronessa18 September 2006
Against my better judgement, I have always classified Ridley Scott as a visual director (with a couple of exceptions like Thelma & Louise), but here he steers way from the sweeping epics and sci-fi fares he does so well, carving out a grounded heist-film in a much smaller format, with more relatable notions and more subtle acting from the leads. Matchstick Men (2003) isn't really visual at all; it is character-driven – and wonderfully so – which is a clear showcase for Mr. Scott's directorial range.

And what eccentric characters there are! Roy (Nicholas Cage) is a con-man who suffers from obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic attacks, and falls prey to hysterical outbursts and tics when people leave doors open, don't take off their shoes, get mud on his carpet, etc. Everything has to be in its place–a certain way, all perfect, fluent and organized. What takes him and shakes him off this course is the entry of his teenage daughter (Alison Lohman) that he never knew he had. Although their father-daughter storyline acts as a diversion in Roy and his con-friend's (Sam Rockwell) lives, it is both an obstacle and an advantage at other times, as Angela is willing to learn the art of conning herself. She proves a quick learner on the con-scene, but Roy's eccentricities is a barrier in their relationship. There are many story lines for few characters, but they are all carefully sewn together by the master tailor Ridley Scott.

As for acting, Nicholas Cage captures the inner turmoil of his character very well in the film, from the twitchy tics to the odd stuttering – he is a big mess, but has that inherent, effortless hero-quality when cast in protagonist roles. Alison Lohman plays a 14-year-old girl, but looks and fits the part – the mood-swings, the crying, the upbeat teenage spirit. They are dynamic together, too, and their on-screen chemistry shrewdly transcends "average", managing excellent. It turns borderline inappropriate at times, given that they play father and daughter. You'll see.

As it is a highly character-driven film, it places other diversions in the backseat to make room for the cast – which is fortunate, because scratch the surface and there is not much else there. A few supporting character here and there, some subtle elements of humour, an attempt at a heist-approach. But mainly, it is not what is in focus, nor should it be. Sam Rockwell has a quite big, colourful part but even he fades because his character is neither explored nor dimensional. The constant conning proves to be a nice detour when it is tended to, but it rarely gets THAT interesting. Pacing is another problem that primarily manifests itself in the beginning of the film; although it's event-laden, it's extremely slow.

Despite its clear shortcomings, Matchstick Men (2003) is still a quality film by a quality director. Now that Ridley Scott has supposedly given up science fiction, we can perhaps expect more films of the Matchstick fibre in the future.
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Decent movie...wish it had turned out differently
Willie-1217 September 2003
Have you ever gone on a trip that you were really looking forward to? And then when the trip was over you realized that looking forward to it was actually better then the trip itself? That is exactly how I feel about Matchstick Men. When I first saw the preview to this movie I couldn't wait to see it. I thought Nicolas Cage and Ridley can this possibly not be good? And then I went to see it. And I enjoyed the whole thing...almost. That darn ending. As the movie went on, and as I laughed, and enjoyed the performances, I knew it was coming. I knew it was going to have one of those twists to it. I was also pretty sure what that twist was going to be. But I was hoping I was going to be wrong. I wasn't. The direction this movie is originally headed in is so much better then where it ends up. I am sure there are many who will love every part of it. And I am sure that there are many who think the ending is perfect. I'm just not one of them. I think it was hurried, predictable, and totally unnecessary. As far as I am concerned, this was a perfect gem until the tarnished conclusion. But that's just my opinion.
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the swindler swindled
dbdumonteil1 January 2005
An habitué of the Hollywood blockbusters like Gladiator (2000) or Blach Hawk Down (2001), we are a little surprised here to discover Ridley Scott in an intimater mood and much more distant from his recent epic efforts. With "Matchstick Men" (2003), Scott decided to try his hand to the comedy, a type he has never really studied, maybe to show that he was able to entertain and to make laugh. But given the contents, the less we can say is that his movie has nothing original. For example how many times in the cinema have we seen the hackneyed topic of the father who discovers he has a daughter and so has to look after her? About this topic, the relationship developed by Cage and his daughter is largely predictable. More serious, Scott devotes an important part of the film to this relationship and what should have been the main subject of the film, the swindles is relegated to a position of secondary importance.

I have written, in the beginning of my review that "Matchstick Men" was Scott's first attempt at making a comedy. Visibly, he isn't familiar with this domain and as far as I'm concerned, I almost didn't laugh during the projection. Probably to hide both a lack of experience in the comedy and a lack of originality in the topic, Scott opted for the overbid and compensation. Either it is in the sequences with Cage and his daughter, his shrink or partner, the film-maker multiplies the cues supposed to cleave through air but it isn't sufficient to make up numerous unfinished or skimmed over comical situations. Moreover, Nicolas Cage acts a neurotic character and there's a big supply of droll sequences whose center is Cage's illness: its effects (Cage's obsession with cleanness) the actor's efforts to cure it (the sessions with the shrink which strongly recall the Crystal-De Niro confrontations in "Analyze this" 1999). But all this is only of a minor interest and like Cage's efforts to take after his daughter, it has as a consequence to move the movie further away from the main plot.

As a result, instead of following the linear main thread, the movie is further divided into several parts which juxtapose themselves to give a lame and patchy film. Moreover, there's one thing I'd like to say to Mr Scott: a comedy must remain a comedy. It mustn't go beyond the bounds of the type. What I mean is that his movie constantly wavers between the comedy, the drama and the thriller without succeeding in finding a unity and a lasting tone. It brings out a quite significant lack of cohesion and in another extent, the director also vainly tries to blend laughter with emotion.

Scott seemed to be aware of these faults which can diminish the interest of the spectator and so to correct them and to boost the machine, he introduced, in the last minutes of the movie an unexpected twist (which I won't reveal). Even if the most perspicacious will say that it is up to from a mile off, this "coup de théâtre" may be dramatic, it also creates an easy moral that spoils nearly the whole movie.

Ridley Scott's opus would be a total failure with Nicolas Cage's presence. The actor holds the whole movie on his shoulders. Beside him, the actress who acts Angela (I can't remember her name) has no problem to put herself in a 14 year old teenager's place in spite of her age (she was 22 years old at the time!).

So, "Matchstick Men" is a flick to watch for Nicols Cage but to forget in Ridley Scott's dense filmography.
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About as subtle as a hacksaw
ergo249720 September 2003
I came into this movie with fairly low expectations. It was reviewed by most as a family sort of flick, con-man meets daughter who turns life upside down, etc. By the combination of seeing the advertising and reading reviews, it was clear that the film was at least partially trying to cross Ocean's Eleven with some lovey-dovey family angle.

But no, it was worse.

The film starts out fairly strong, with a lot of camera tricks to emphasize Roy's (the main character, played by Nicholas Cage) obsessive-compulsive disorder. Cage can't seem to strike a line as to his treatment of the character's illness. He's either over-doing it or completely forgetting it. One moment he has five tics in a row, the next he seems perfectly fine. The film also quickly discards all the camera motifs, such as the images of Roy's ordered, contained life being shaded blue, and chaos and the world outside being yellow.

A little way in, Sam Rockwell's character Frank (who is sorely underused, by the way) gets Roy a new psychiatrist, as his old one has skipped town. The shrink hooks Roy up with his long-lost daughter Angela (Alison Lohman). Angela is either crying, giggling, gaping or being cute throughout the entire film, until perhaps the ending.

Meanwhile, the film opens roughly five other excess sub-plots, such as Roy's blossoming relationship with the woman at the checkout line in a local grocery store (they say "Hi" a few times), and a con on a guy who is very greedy and very rich. The writers box themselves in, strangled by the tangled plot lines.

So what do they do? They get ludicrous. Suffice it to say that the big con goes wrong, there's a ridiculous car chase, and the guy who was conned tracks Angela down. Things get more contrived from there, piling on the "surprises" until everyone in the audience either oohs, ahhs, or throws up.

To top it all off, there's a completely unnecessary "One Year Later" coda, which returns to the same sentimental mush the film had at its core. The process of groping for a twist ending that would make people think the film was clever has now elongated the film by about 45 minutes.

To add to this mess, the film never executes any of its development with subtlety. If it had some finesse, this movie could probably have been decent. Instead, I felt more conned than anyone else on screen.
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