Criminal 2004 Movie Scene John C. Reilly as Richard Gaddis handing a briefcase full of cash to Maggie Gyllenhaal as Valerie with Diego Luna as Rodrigo looking at him

Criminal [2004]

I think you already know how I feel about American remakes of European classics but this one didn’t turn out so bad. Criminal is a highly engrossing thriller about two conmen who come up with a perfect plan to get rich quickly. The story is full of twists and turns, keeping you guessing what’s going to happen next. I find movies about conmen very relaxing and requiring zero brain effort. They’re so removed from everything we do in our ordinary lives that they feel like you’re taking a movie vacation. If that makes any sense.

To make things even better, Criminal is an easygoing and smooth experience. Add to this the short running time of just eighty minutes and you’ve got yourself a perfect weekday time-killer. Something that’s going to take your mind off of things. Like the inevitable alarm that’s going to wake you in a couple of hours for another round of useless late-stage capitalism slave labor. You know, the more I think about it, the more this con stuff is starting to make sense. Although I’m not sure I would be good at it, I’m too much of a straight shooter.

The original Argentinian movie Nueve Reinas or Nine Queens is a masterpiece and you could argue that its remake, Criminal is just a pale copy. However, I think it’s charming, entertaining, and refreshing enough to warrant a viewing. The cast did a surprisingly good job. I had no idea John C. Reilly would be such a good conman and young Diego Luna was perfect in the role of his protege. Oddly enough John already played a conman in the nineties movie Hard Eight. Maggie Gyllenhaal was the cherry on the top giving another authentic and charming performance.

Smooth and almost unnoticeable, Richard Gaddis is an expert conman. He’s always on the look out for the next big thing and this is why he’s in the casino right now. However, his eyes drift to a young man who keeps talking to the staff. It turns out he’s also a conman but not a very good one since he gets caught red-handed. Richard comes to his aid and decides to take him on as an assistant. Mostly because the next job he has in mind is a big one.

The sheer audacity to pull off some of these schemes is mind-blowing. They all feel very realistic and like they would work in real life. There’s a reason why there are so many scammers on the Internet these days. Moreover, the camera is positioned really close to our characters giving the whole thing a very personal vibe.

Like you’re the one being tricked. Oh, that reminds me, I have to reply to that Nigerian prince who’s trying to get his inheritance back. Oh man, oh man, big payday is coming. Finally, if you’re looking for movies like Criminal, I recommend you check out Matchstick Men and Confidence.

Director: Gregory Jacobs

Writers: Fabián Bielinsky, Gregory Jacobs, Steven Soderbergh

Cast: John C. Reilly, Diego Luna, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Peter Mullan, Laura Cerón

Fun Facts: There are two more remakes of the original Argentinian movie Nueve Reinas: Gulumaal: The Escape and Bluffmaster both of which are Indian.


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