Movie Review by Neil Ryan
Starring: Edward Burns, Rachel Weisz, Andy Garcia, Dustin Hoffman, Paul Giamatti
Director: James Foley
Okay, so my initial fear was that CONFIDENCE would be to Dustin Hoffman what THE RECRUIT was to Al Pacino: i.e. a lazy paycheck. But whereas THE RECRUIT was wan, mediocre, and cliched, CONFIDENCE is sassy, enjoyable, and cliched. And whilst Pacino manoeuvered through THE RECRUIT like a second-string actor giving a passable impression of Pacino, Hoffman flexes a few acting muscles to bring an edgy presence to his role in CONFIDENCE.
Hoffman plays Los Angeles crime boss Winston King, a man known to bear a grudge who is out for repayment or revenge when small-time con artist Jake Vig (Ed Burns) and his crew swindle an accountant out of $150K, unaware that the money belongs to King. In order to repay the debt Vig agrees to undertake a job on behalf of King. A big job that will involve complex financial transactions to defraud a corporate bank that fronts for the money-laundering activities of organised crime. And so begins a merry-go-round of grifting, betrayal, and double-dealings. All of the twists and counter-twists one would expect of such a plot are present; as are familiar narrative devices such as flashbacks and the voiceover testimony of a dead character; and, of course, well-worn set-pieces, e.g. the Mexican stand-off.
But despite the fact that every plot curveball and showpiece can be traced back to RESERVOIR DOGS, USUAL SUSPECTS, et al, CONFIDENCE still manages to impress by grabbing the attention of the viewer early on and then dragging them along for the ride at breakneck speed with nary a chance for them to stop and sneer. Admittedly, given that CONFIDENCE inhabits such over-familiar cinematic territory, I had entertained the idea of every possible plot machination before it was actually realised on screen, but because of the short sharp scenes, rapid-fire dialogue, pacy direction, and sheer verve of the whole enterprise this fails to diminish the enjoyment of the film.
CONFIDENCE is well-crafted high-velocity entertainment with an impressive cast, a swagger in its step, and just the hint of a curl in the upper lip.