Matchstick Men


Matchstick MenBuy this Poster at

Nicolas Cage as Roy Waller
Sam Rockwell as Frank Mercer
Alison Lohman as Angela
Bruce Altman as Dr. Klein
Bruce McGill as Chuck Frechette
Jenny O’Hara as Mrs. Schaffer
Steve Eastin as Mr. Schaffer
Beth Grant as Laundry Lady
Shelia Kelly as Kathy
Fran Kranz as Slacker Boyfriend
Tim Kelleher as Bishop
Nigel Gibbs as Holt

Matchstick Men is one of director Ridley Scott’s ‘small’ films in the vein of ‘Thelma and Louise’, and like that movie, this one is driven by strong performances kicked in by the chief players. Toss in the twisty-turny world of grifting, and Matchstick Men sets the screen alight with entertaining characters, solid plotting and sharp dialogue.

Phobia-addled con artist Roy (Cage) and his protege Frank (Rockwell) are on the verge of pulling off a lucrative swindle when the unexpected arrival of Roy’s teenage daughter Angela (Lohman) disrupts his carefully ordered life and jeopardizes his high-risk scam.

Matchstick Men is rated PG-13 for thematic elements, violence, some sexual content and language.

What Worked:

The acting in Matchstick Men is top notch. All around great performances are turned in from the big three – Cage, Rockwell and Lohman. Cage is a pleasure to watch as the obsessive-compulsive con man who at times would rather spend a full day in a house cleaning frenzy than pull one short con job. His ticks, grunts and spasms add a degree of both comedy and sympathy for the character.

Rockwell is nails as Cage’s partner Frank – an up-and-comer who has latched onto his senior partner to learn the trade and get well off of the unsuspecting. Rockwell just keeps getting better in every film I see him in… from The Green Mile to Confessions of a Dangerous Mind to Matchstick Men.

Alison Lohman probably deserves the grandest kudos of the three. The 24-year old actress is playing a 14-year old in the movie and she nails it. Every smile, bounce and tear is that of an ordinary teenage girl. I for one had no idea she was 24 until I read her bio before typing this out.

The story is good here as well. Without giving too much away, if you expect that you’re not getting the whole picture when watching this movie, you’re right. Like most con flicks, this one has a secret lurking in the background that springs out near the end of the film.

What Didn’t Work:
Two things really stand out as not jiving with me regarding Matchstick Men. The first actually does redeem itself, but I was almost ready to be let down during the second half of the film. Again without spoilers, there was a scene in a hospital that I thought was going to take the film in a bad direction, but as I said, it did redeem itself.

Second, the ending. It is not that it is a terrible ending, but it is a ‘Hollywood’ ending. From what I understand, the novel the film is based on ends differently, and the film should have followed suit. However, it was probably some suit in LA that said it had to end a little more touchy-feely… more positive.

In all, I recommend Matchstick Men. It is a great exercise in character by three leads that play it close to perfect.