The con man’s greatest asset is not the gullibility of the mark, but the greed. It is much easier to persuade someone that you are dishonest than honest, especially if he is intrigued by the chance to be just a little dishonest for once, too.
And it is our own slightly crooked impulses that makes films about con men so much fun to watch, as long as we can avoid sympathy for the mark.
“Criminal” begins with Richard (John C. Reilly), a professional con man rescuing Rodrigo (Diego Luna), a beginner and offering to take him on as a partner. But first they have to show each other what they can do.
Then they begin the big con — they plan to sell a forgery to a zillionaire who is staying at a luxury hotel where Richard’s estranged sister is a manager. The rich guy has to leave the country soon, but he collects rare currency and if Richard’s bill can be verified, he wants to buy it.
The nicely twisty script was first filmed as the Argentinian film, Nine Queens. This American remake has a strong cast and some nice surprises, but misses the sparkle of the original.
Parents should know that the movie includes strong language, sexual references (including brokering of a family member for financial gain), drinking, smoking, tension, and peril. The characters in the movie are crooks who cheat other people out of money.
Families who see this movie should talk about the decision Richard has to make when his mark adds an extra condition to the deal. Why is it worth it to him to agree? How do people who make a living being untrustworthy decide who to trust?
Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy Confidence, Matchstick Men, Heist, A Big Hand for the Little Lady, and The Sting.