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Directed by James Foley ("Glengarry Glen Ross").
Written by Doug Jung.
Starring Edward Burns, Dustin Hoffman, Rachel Weisz and Andy Garcia.
Release Year:  2003 
Review Date:  5/20/03 


As I fill the gaps from blockbuster to blockbuster, I was intrigued to catch up with the caper “Confidence” before it rolled out of theaters, so since it is a slow week here that night was tonight.

Sure, it looks like “The Grifters”, but “Confidence” features a better overall cast and stands out from the caper pack in its own right.  Edward Burns headlines as Jake Vig, career con man.  When the film opens, he is explaining to the audience what has gone wrong for him over the previous three weeks.  See, apparently Jake ripped off local heavy Winston King (Dustin Hoffman) by making a score on a man affiliated with “The King”, so Winston offs one of Jake’s crew and to settle things, Jake makes The King an offer--a makeup score for The King that will earn back his money and then some...and, make a very rich man out of Jake and his band of thieves.

But, being a summer alternative means that you are seeing this film for style, not substance, and “Confidence” delivers the goods here.  A good-looking, cool cast that likes to say the f-word a lot is just what the doctor ordered, so besides Burns and Hoffman, we get Donal Logue (lots of films, but most notably as the star of “The Tao of Steve”), Luis Guzman, Andy Garcia and Paul Giamatti.  We also get good-looking people for no good reason in the form of Morris Chestnut (ladies DO love Mr. Chestnut) and Rachel Weisz.  The production’s pace is very good and the score is excellent; the lighting is fantastic and the color scheme is quite lively.

The story, however, is weak.  The setup of “Confidence”--the whole “Here’s the ending, and the hero is dead, and we’re going to show you what got him in this position”--just feels more and more played out as the years go on.  The triple- and quadruple-crossing schemes that populate these movies mean that for the seasoned moviegoer, you sit around waiting to see who will get crossed next.  The ending for this film just doesn’t deliver, mostly because the blind, deaf six-year-old sitting next to me called it out after minute four of the film’s running time.  And, good-looking leads means you should have a sex scene or two for me to ogle, and “Confidence” doesn’t even score there, teasing us with a silhouetted fade-out of some body doubles hitting the hay.  Blah.

My friend Michael “I Stole Your Cube” Nolan reminded me recently that I need to make you aware of the importance of my ratings and the tie-in to whether or not you should see a film in a theater or at home, so let me say this about “Confidence”--it is enjoyable, and it does have strong qualities, but much like “The Grifters”, “Ocean’s Eleven”, “The Score” or other heist/caper films of late, it is better viewed in the comfort of your own home.  Nothing about the film’s qualities is better on the big screen, and it is a strong Sally’s-coming-over-and-I-need-a-date-flick rental so you should probably save it for that.

In the meantime, you can get out there and see “Reloaded” one more time.

Rating:  Matinee


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
© 1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09