By many accounts, Criminal, the American retelling of the Argentine film Nueve Reinas, is a shade paler than the original. Nonetheless, Gregory Jacobs’ directorial debut should please audiences new to this who’s-screwing-who con man puzzler. Or, at the very least, the movie should win over fans of the outstanding cast: John C. Reilly (Chicago), Diego Luna (Y Tu Mama Tambien) or Maggie Gyllenhaal (Secretary).
Reilly brings his usual degree of quirkiness to Richard Gaddis, a small-time scam artist with a big-time ego. Richard takes amateur crook Rodrigo (Luna) under his wing, to teach him the finer points of running a successful scam. As the two con their way through Los Angeles, it seems that Rodrigo’s cleverness might make up for his inexperience. He also has two characteristics Richard lacks: a trustworthy face, which is an asset for a con man, and a conscience, which could be their downfall.
After what could be the score of a lifetime falls into their laps, the deceitful duo discover they need help from Richard’s nemesis, his sister Valerie (Gyllenhaal).
As the scam unfolds, fresh-faced Rodrigo must decide if he trusts tricky Richard, and Richard must win over icy cold Valerie.
Reilly is superb, never callous but always calculating. Luna leaves you wondering if there’s something more wicked behind his trustworthy mug. And Gyllenhaal plays off Reilly’s cockiness with unyielding loathing. It’s loads of fun to watch the sparks fly when these three actors go toe-to-toe.
While Criminal breaks no new ground, it’s amusing enough to watch the caper unfold — although we all know that somebody’s going get screwed in the end.
Showing exclusively at the Birmingham 8, 211 S. Old Woodward, Birmingham. Call 248-644-FILM for more info.
Clare Pfeiffer Ramsey writes about film for Metro Times. Send comments to email@example.com.
We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Detroit Metro Times. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Detroit Metro Times, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Detroit Metro Times works for you, and your support is essential.
Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Detroit and beyond.
Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.
Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Detroit's true free press free.