WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
A couple of professional matchstick men (con men), one an obsessive-compulsive veteran (Cage) and the other, his cockier younger protégé (Rockwell), try to dupe yet another sucker in a “long con.” Things get a tad more complicated when Cage’s long-lost 14-year old daughter steps into the picture and begins to inject some love, simplicity and morality into Nic’s enclosed and lonely lifestyle.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
There are some great con movies (GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS, THE SPANISH PRISONER), good ones (THE GRIFTERS, HOUSE OF GAMES) and others that are average at best (CONFIDENCE). MATCHSTICK MEN easily nestles itself into the great category. Of course, like all of the above films, you need to loosen your imagination a smidgen when watching films like this as it’ll be hard to believe, even in a movie, that such an elaborate and precise plan could go off without even the slightest hitch. Then again, these are people that do this for a living, so I personally have no problem suspending my disbelief for these films. Besides, there is so much more to this movie besides the “con” elements. The first of which would be another perfect Nic Cage performance as he believably and compassionately portrays a severely obsessively compulsive man without lowering the character to a boring caricature or even worse - a big joke. Every step of the way, you’re invested in Cage’s fears and worries, in addition to those tender moments when his heart begins to swell and his tics, to disappear.
This is one con movie that can boast having a very sweet message. The idea being that love, in any form, can move mountains. It’s an oldie for sure, but in this film...it’s a damn convincing goodie. Lohman is simply extraordinary playing Nic’s irresistibly charming and cute daughter and Mr. Rockwell, as I’ve stated in past reviews, is simply...a genius. Sam, as always, is cool and simple and has yet to disappoint me in any of his films. Rockwell is basically Frank Sinatra without the mafia. Speaking of the chairman, the Bobby Darin/Frank Sinatra/Herb Alpert songs spread out generously throughout the film really hit my sweet spot and worked perfectly in a Rat Pack-ish flavored film like this. Add to that, a deliciously catchy score by Hans Zimmer and some stylish directing (lots of old-fashioned sliding screen shots) and you’ve got an extremely well rounded and entertaining movie. Whether it’s the crime elements, the moving father and daughter relationship or the intelligent commentary about the power of love over mental illness, MATCHSTICK MEN is a success on all counts.
Tricks of the Trade: Making Matchstick Men (~ 70 minutes): This is a remarkably in-depth day-to-day account on the making of the film. Separated into three parts: Pre-Production, Production and Post-Production, this feature takes you from Ridley’s casting and costume meetings to his shooting days to the final touches put on the film like the editing and testing the movie for audiences. All the minions and the big shots contribute to this, the most important and most present being the man at the helm himself: Ridley Scott.
Audio Commentary by Ridley Scott, writer Nicholas Griffin and writer/producer Ted Griffin: If the previous extra didn’t satisfy your entire Matchstick Men needs, than this commentary track surely will. This is a very nice side dish to the “making-of” extra that’ll reveal even more about the inner workings of the film.
We also get the film's Theatrical Trailer.
This was my second viewing of MATCHSTICK MEN and based on that, I can confidently say that this film has some serious re-watch value. The fact that it has some pretty good extras just reinforces my suggestion to add this to your collection. I really can’t imagine too many people not enjoying, at least, one of the many facets this film has to offer.
PS: Cage was robbed of an Oscar nomination. Pass it on…