Reviewed by: Gator MacReady

A rather unimaginatively titled remake of an Argentinean movie, Nine Queens, will probably be dismissed by the casual cinemagoer thanks to its lack of a catchy name. But the dullness begins and ends there. While Criminal is nothing special, it's a tight, fast-paced fun ride.

Richard Gaddis is a beast of a man (played by John C Reilly, what do you expect?). He's a thief, hustler, scamster, con man, who enjoys ripping off friends, family, waiters, old ladies, etc. The list goes on and on. He really ain't a nice guy.

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While scanning a local casino for potential suckers, he clocks mega-small-time hustler Rodrigo (Diego Luna) scamming a couple of waitresses. Rodrigo is promptly recruited as some sort of protege to Gaddis's bastardness and the two go off on a major scam adventure. Have I said scam enough yet? Coz the movie is sure crammed full of them.

An ultra-rare zillion dollar bill comes into their hands and they go through major hassle and multiple plot complications trying to pawn it off to a Rupert Murdoch-type businessman (Peter Mullan), while avoiding debt collectors and troubling family strife from Gaddis's estranged sister (Maggie Gyllenhaal, who's welcome in Gator's bed any day).

While it's easy to follow, it's also ridiculously contrived and capped off with a surprise twist that defies logic and relies on too many coincidences. Most people will mistake their confusion as cleverness on the movie's behalf but intelligent folk like me see right through it and into the plot-holes. But hey-ho, it's only a movie.

Directed by Steven Soderbergh's cameraman Gregory Jacobs, you'll be familiar with the steadicam tracking shots and documentary-style ambience. It works well as a small scale Ocean's Eleven (or whatever number it's up to now) and should only be judged as such, regardless of nonsensical twists.

There are currently worse ways to waste 90 minutes at your local multiplex. While Criminal may not linger in the mind too long, there's not a second of boredom, nor a pinch of tackiness.

Reviewed on: 17 Feb 2005
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Criminal packshot
A couple of professional scam merchants come up with the ultimate con trick.
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Director: Gregory Jacobs

Writer: Gregory Jacobs, Steven Soderbergh, based on the screenplay of Nine Queens by Fabian Bielinsky

Starring: John C. Reilly, Diego Luna, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Jonathan Tucker, Peter Mullan, Zitto Kazaan, Jonathan Tucker

Year: 2004

Runtime: 87 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: US


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If you like this, try:

The Aura
Nine Queens
Ocean's Eleven