Even though this film sucks, you have to admire the reasoning of director James ("Glengarry Glen Ross") Foley in hiring Edward Burns, who's about as well-cast as Kermit the Frog in "Hamlet." What kind of qualities would one want in a modern day con artist, confidence man, cheat? Well, he'd be emotionless and impossible to read, for starters. Indeed, these are great qualities in a con artist and terrible qualities in an actor. However, Foley fails to realize that the actor hired to portray the confidence man must also be able to convey a personality outside of his con artist persona. Apparently, Burns was the love child Robert Stack and Theresa Russell, because he lacks this ability completely.
Burns plays Jake Vig, a professional con artist who begins the movie pulling a cute scam with his crew: Gordo (Paul Giamatti), Miles (Brian Van Holt) and Sal. Unfortunately, the money involved turns out to have been stolen from The King (Dustin Hoffman), a particularly vicious criminal who doesn't care that Jake was unaware of the money's origins. Consequently, Jake arranges to pull off another scam so that he can pay The King back. The King sends a henchman, Lupus (Franky G.) along to keep an eye on Jake and his crew. Jake hires Lily (Rachel Weisz), a beautiful pickpocket he just happens to meet on the street.
And one actually wonders why crime is such a problem in this country? It's nice to know that gorgeous pickpockets are always one corner away and willing to sleep with you at the drop of a hat. Oh no, they're never skanks with dripping venereal diseases who've been around the block more times than a Manhattanite's Jack Russell terrier.
Another mistake Foley makes (a mistake that is warned against ad naseum in every scriptwriting book I've ever read, yet is constantly in use by established Hollywood directors) is that the story is told in flashback by Jake just before he's about to be executed by Travis (Morris Chestnut), a henchman working for Morgan Price (Robert Forster), the target of Jake's second scam. This is the lazy man's way of telling a story. In this case, it's also just plain idiotic. If the story is being told from Jake's point of view, then shouldn't the audience be privy to all the tricks going on, particularly the ones involving people working for him and not for whom they claim? Lily seems to switch sides, there's a Federal agent (Andy Garcia) tracking two cops (Donal Logue, Luis Guzman) on the take, and we're meant to think that Lupus is warming up to Jake. Eliminate the story-told-in-flashback and there's no obligation to reveal anything to the audience because the story can be told from the omniscient point of view.
"Confidence" is simply uninspired cinema trickery.
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