Confidence  (2003) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

Ed Burns plays the leader of a crew of grifters who mistakenly rip off some money from a powerful and eccentric mobster. Rather than returning the money, Burns proposes to create a new custom sting for the boss (Dustin Hoffman), thus allowing the freaky criminal to gain some revenge on an old associate. 

The mechanics of the sting are interesting, but it's not especially difficult to see the details which are supposed to be hidden from the audience. The secrets are altogether too obvious to people who regularly watch movies of this type. The most innovative element of the sting is that Burns and his men have to devise the sting like a chess game, with several options that hinge on the behavior of the "marks".


There is some miscellaneous nudity. Dustin Hoffman plays the owner of a sex club, and some of the anonymous employees are seen topless or in bikinis from time to time.

Ed Burns and Rachel Weisz have a sex scene, but it is shot in silhouette against a backdrop of colored light, and nothing is visible.

The stylish con seems to be properly conceived, but the mechanics of the sting really form the entire raison d'etre of the movie. The character development is minimal, so that by the end of the movie, the characters still remain strangers to the audience. There is some babble about the thrill of the con, but apart from that the characters' motivations and backgrounds are fundamentally unknown. They are people whose lives begin and end in the time frame of the film. They aren't people, but movie characters.

DVD info from Amazon

  • Cast commentary

  • Director commentary

  • Writer commentary

  • Sundance Channel Presents "Anatomy of a Scene"

  • Deleted scenes

  • Widescreen anamorphic format

The filmmakers didn't really need an actor of Dustin Hoffman's genius to play a "mark", and there was no reason for the character to be an aging, over-the-top mobster of questionable sexuality. His sexual proclivities didn't drive the plot in any way. (In fact, they rewrote the character when Hoffman came on board.)

Dustin Hoffman seems to have gotten off on the sheer quirkiness of the role, and his audacious, mannered turn, filled with plenty of Hoffman's usual detailed character embellishments, provides some of the film's more interesting moments.

The Critics Vote ...

  • Super-panel consensus: two and a half stars. Ebert 2/4, Berardinelli 3/4, BBC 3/5

The People Vote ...

  • It grossed $12 million on a maximum of 1871 screens.
The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. (C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by genre fans, while C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie although genre addicts find it watchable). D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, C+. Clever sting movie. It's a solid genre script which is given additional credibility by the presence of Hoffman, filmdom's greatest character actor.

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