Movie Review by Jonathan Harvey
Starring: John C Reilly, Diego Luna, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Peter Mullan
Director: Gregory Jacobs
CRIMINAL (a US remake of the critically acclaimed Argentinean film NUEVE REINAS aka NINE QUEENS) is a slick independent heist movie, a fact that shouldn’t surprise when the names Clooney and Soderbergh appear in the credits as producers. It follows a young hustler named Rodrigo (Diego Luna) who’s desperate for money to help pay off his father’s debts and who gets taken under the wing of John C Reilly’s Richard, an older and more experienced conman looking for a new partner. Soon an opportunity to trick a millionaire businessman out of a fortune offers the pair a chance to get rich, if they can work together.
As the directorial debut of long time Soderbergh collaborator Gregory Jacobs, it’s an efficiently told tale and the transfer of the story from Argentina to Los Angeles works perfectly well. It’s held together by a good central chemistry between Reilly and Luna’s bickering con artists and if anything it all feels a bit rushed, clocking in at just 87 minutes. With such a short running time some of the characters feel undercooked, which is a shame given the talented supporting cast on show, headed by the excellent Maggie Gyllenhaal as Richard’s long-suffering sister. The final twist also lacks some of the punch of the original, but for the most part the story’s panache remains intact. While NINE QUEENS is the superior film, CRIMINAL is nevertheless an engaging and entertaining watch, and certainly doesn’t outstay its welcome.