Matchstick Men

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Matchstick Men
Movie Review (7.5/10)
(By Alex Riviello)


Matchstick Men is the story of Roy (Nicolas Cage), a man with a pretty bad case of OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder). This means he spends a lot of time cleaning, smoking, opening and closing things a set number of times, and just generally being an annoying spaz. He also happens to be a fantastic con artist. I mean seriously, there are a few schemes he has going in the movie that'll make you think that you're in the wrong business. Frank (Sam Rockwell) is his partner, who puts up with all of Roy's tics because of all the money they're making. Roy's problems eventually get so bad that he has to go to a psychiatrist so he can get some medicine, which is pretty entertaining. But it's not until he realizes that he has a 14-year-old daughter Angela (Alison Lohman) he's never met that things start getting going.

It's strange at first for him, because he can't deal with a dirty teenager being around him, but he starts to love the idea of having a kid when he finds out she's a pretty good scammer too. He starts teaching her some of the tricks of his business, and lets her try out a few. There are a few scenes between the two of them that really remind you of Jean Reno and Natalie Portman in Leon the Professional. Where does it go from there? Let's just say there are a few great twists in this movie. A few are obvious, but some will catch you off guard. The movie also has a lot of laughs (mostly concerning Roy's insane way of dealing with things) and some great dialogue, but overall it doesn't feel like that much happens in the film. This is one movie that's completely focused on the characters.

Nicolas Cage's performance is one of the best of his career. Sam Rockwell is decent, but not used to his full potential - his role is more glorified comic relief than anything (we don't feel anything for him). Alison Lohman is great as Cage's daughter - even more so when you realize that she's in her early twenties and still convincingly plays someone 10 years younger. She pulls off the role perfectly. Since the movie is really a character piece, it was imperative to have great actors in it, and Ridley Scott definitely didn't fail in this task.

Interestingly enough, Matchstick Men doesn't feel like a Ridley Scott film. It has some great cinematography in it, and the lighting is used to great effect to convey the emotions Cage's character is feeling. It also has a lot more wipes than I've seen in one of his films - perhaps to continue the whole cleanliness thing that Roy is going through? Either way, the director focuses most of the attention on the characters, which is how it should be. There's not as much style as you'd expect in one of his films, but that's not what this movie's about.

Ultimately, Matchstick Men is a good movie, but somewhat forgettable. Still, if you're looking for an intelligent and funny movie to see this week - you should check this one out. Even if you hate Nicolas Cage I guarantee you'll be amazed by his performance. It's not his best movie, or Ridley Scott's best, but it's a damn entertaining one nonetheless.

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