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Matchstick Men /

Rated: PG-13

Starring: Nicolas Cage, Sam Rockwell, Alison Lohman, Bruce McGill, Bruce Altman
Directed by: Ridley Scott
Produced by: Jack Rapke, Ridley Scott, Steve Starkey, Ted Griffin, Sean Bailey
Written By: Ted Griffin, Nick Griffin, Eric Garcia, Nicholas Griffin
Distributor: Warner Brothers


     Plot twists can make or break a movie. We’ve seen them done correctly (The Life of David Gale) and we’ve seen them done half-wittedly (Identity). Unfortunately, the tricky twirl, featured at the end of the script of Matchstick Men is unforgiving and thoroughly awful. For almost an hour and forty-five minutes, this movie succeeds in entertaining us like none other, only to fall short in the end and disappoint us. It does have some good performances and witty dialogue, though—and all in all—it’s definitely worth watching.

     Roy Waller (Nicholas Cage) is a nutty, obsessive-compulsive con-man who can never keep any control over himself. He and his partner, Frank Mercer (Sam Rockwell), have achieved greatness in one area—working people. The sky is the limit for them, when it comes to scams, cons, and crimes. Roy could leave the business and have enough money to cover himself for the rest of his life, but lying and cheating have become one of his addictions. Frank, on the other hand, needs every single con he commits, in order to pay the month’s rent.

     Roy is a tremendously written and developed character; it’s too bad the screenwriters didn’t have time to focus on the plot, also. After the first scene alone, we know that this character is more than just obsessive-compulsive. Watching Cage tick whenever there’s a scrap of dirt on a clean floor or too much sunlight let into a home is hysterical. Add Roy’s fascination over the number three and the fact that he will only eat canned tuna and smoke cigarettes into the mix and you have yourself the ideal character. Even though much of the credit for this should go to screenwriters Ted Griffin, Nick Griffin, Eric Garcia, and Nicholas Griffin, Cage is the one who really makes his character, who he is. He’s always intriguing and surprisingly refreshing to watch onscreen; even when the script in Matchstick Men slacks, Cage is always there to keep us entertained.

     Roy can’t even take care of himself, efficiently, with all of these ticks and compulsions. In attempts to fix his disorder, he orders medication illegally over the phone. Unluckily for Roy, he accidentally spills all of his pills down his kitchen sink’s drain, only to find out that his dealer is no longer working. In hopes of getting a refill of the prescription, he meets with a psychiatrist, related to Frank. In one of their sessions, Roy’s new doctor provokes him to talk with his previous family, which he left behind year’s ago. While his ex-wife won’t talk to him, his long-lost daughter, Angela (Allison Lohman), would love to. Before long, the two develop a bond, and she ends up staying at his place overnight quite often. The dangerous business that Roy is in does not allow one to have a family, though. If he’s going to want to keep Angela, he’ll need to have to quit being a con-artist. And so, the insane plot-action begins…

     The scenes that feature Lohman and Cage interacting are quite sweet, and are really what make the movie. The atrocious ending, which I will not give away, completely destroys everything that these scenes (and almost all of the others) stand for. Matchstick Men represents one of the only occasions, where I would’ve preferred a film having a paper-thin, formulaic, and conventional conclusion, rather than a twisty one.

     With all said and done, the six bucks that I paid for admission to Matchstick Men was probably worth it. It’ll come across on the small-screen even better. One’s liking of it will depend on their reaction to the ending. The fun execution and fabulous performances are enough to keep any viewer satisfied, however. Matchstick Men is entertaining and nothing more; the crazy plot is just a con—don’t let it fool you.

-Danny, Bucket Reviews


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