Criminal movie review, Gregory Jacobs, John C. Reilly, Diego Luna, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Jonathan Tucker, Maeve Quinlan, Peter Mullan, Zitto Kazann, Brandon Keener, Brent Sexton, Soledad St. Hilaire, Gary L. Mack. Review by Rob Blackwelder İSPLICEDwire
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SMOOTH 'CRIMINAL'
A scene from 'Criminal'
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"CRIMINAL"
*** stars
87 minutes | Rated: R
LIMITED: Friday, September 10, 2004
Directed by Gregory Jacobs

Starring John C. Reilly, Diego Luna, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Peter Mullan, Jonathan Tucker, Maeve Quinlan, Zitto Kazann, Brandon Keener, Brent Sexton, Soledad St. Hilaire, Gary L. Mack



 COUCH CRITIQUE
   SMALL SCREEN SHRINKAGE: 10%
   WIDESCREEN: COULDN'T HURT


 OTHER REVIEWS/COMING SOON
 
  • John C. Reilly
  • Diego Luna
  • Maggie Gyllenhaal
  • Peter Mullan


  •  LINKS for this film
    Official site
    at movies.yahoo.com
    at Rotten Tomatoes
    at Internet Movie Database
    Small-time con artists in over their heads make for shrewd twists and deception in low-key remake of 'Nine Queens'

    By Rob Blackwelder

    It's almost always a good sign when a movie jumps right into a pivotal scene, not bothering with opening credits, establishing exposition or any pre-fabricated title sequence.

    It means the filmmaker is focused on telling a good story, and in "Criminal," director Gregory Jacobs wastes no time showing a very green small-time con artist (Diego Luna) being rescued from arrest by a life-long (but no less petty) short-con expert (John C. Reilly) who had been watching him pull a clumsy $20 scam on several casino waitresses.

    In need of a new partner, Reilly takes the kid under his wing, and in a matter of hours they've swindled $200 from a little old lady (while butting heads over Luna's hypocritical selective conscience), ripped off a restaurant for another $100 in a change scam, and faked a minor car accident to get a stranger to pony up for gas money -- all in a day's "work" for the unconscionable elder crook.

    But when they stumble onto a chance to pull a six-figure big con -- involving a media-mogul currency collector (Peter Mullan) and a meticulously forged antique treasury note -- the stakes shoot up exponentially, and so do the consequences.

    Habitual duplicity and backstabbing create a stimulating, deceptively intricate plot maze in this sharp, shrewd, but not showy remake of the 2000 Argentine import "Nine Queens," co-written by Jacobs and Steven Soderbergh (albeit under a pseudonym).

    Soon our sympathetic (Luna) and not not-so-sympathetic (Reilly) anti-heroes are both out of their depth and trying to stay cool, so badly entwined in a scam that's gotten away from them that Reilly is even prepared to prostitute his estranged sister (Maggie Gyllenhaal) -- a willowy concierge at the collector's high-class hotel -- to keep his fish on the hook. Then the question becomes, how does he approach her with this when she already hates his conniving guts and aggressively resents his running a sting on her turf.

    Jacobs' low-key, low-budget style gives this film an immediacy that, along with tangy but understated performances, lends palpable empathy to every character -- be they victims, crooks, or something in between. As a result, no matter which way the cards fall in the end, "Criminal" would be equally satisfying.






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