Confidence

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To pull off a good con, you gotta have a patsy, a chump, a sucker. Fortunately, movie audiences are full of ’em, and movies about con artists nearly always do well.

In the style (perhaps too much so) of con movies like “The Grifters,” “The Sting,” and many a David Mamet film, “Confidence” brings absolutely nothing new to the genre. But considering the whole point of the genre is merely to show characters lying to each other, maybe nothing new is required. Lies are always fun, especially if we’re kept guessing as long as the chumps onscreen are.

Jake Vig (Edward Burns) tells us in the opening voice-over, “So I’m dead, and I think it’s because of this redhead.” An intriguing start, and it’s flashbacks from there, back to the introduction of the redhead, Lily (Rachel Weisz), into Jake’s crew of con artists and reprobates.

Jake and the gang rip off a guy who, unfortunately, turns out to be a representative of The King, the most important underworld figure in the land, enacted with playful malevolence by Dustin Hoffman. King gives Jake and friends a chance to redeem themselves by doing a job for him: They have to grift an even bigger fish, Morgan Price (Robert Forster), a banker with even better Mob ties than King has.

This will not be easy, so Jake – against the wishes of his superstitious crew — brings in Lily, a talented pickpocket. In the film for good measure are a couple corrupt cops (Donal Logue and Luis Guzman), an FBI agent (Andy Garcia) and a henchman (Morris Chestnut).

And so it goes. You never know who’s conning whom, or how it will turn out; the ending, I must say, is gleefully unexpected and fun. There’s a little too much dallying in the set-up – just GET to it already – but that doesn’t hinder the overall sense of trash-talking entertainment that marks the film.

B- (1 hr., 38 min.; R, abundant harsh profanity, brief strong sexuality, some nudity, some violence.)

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