Register  |   Log In  |  
Sign up to our weekly newsletter    
Search   
Empire Magazine and iPad
Follow Me on Pinterest YouTube Tumblr
Empire
Trending On Empire
The Future Of Film
The 100 Greatest Video Games
Robin Williams: The Big Interview
Kevin Feige:
My Movie Life

The Marvel supremo's pick of the flicks
Want To Be An Empire Journalist?
Find out how here
Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

FILM DETAILS
Certificate
12A
Cast
Nicolas Cage
Sam Rockwell
Alison Lohman
Bruce Altman.
Directors
Ridley Scott.
Screenwriters
Nicholas Griffin
Ted Griffin.
Running Time
111 minutes

LATEST FILM REVIEWS
Tony Benn: Will And Testament
5 Star Empire Rating
Life After Beth
4 Star Empire Rating
Palo Alto
4 Star Empire Rating
Nightcrawler
5 Star Empire Rating
Wilde Salomé
3 Star Empire Rating



5 STAR REVIEWS
Tony Benn: Will And Testament
5 Star Empire Rating
Nightcrawler
5 Star Empire Rating
Cabinet Of Dr. Caligari, The
5 Star Empire Rating
Two Days, One Night
5 Star Empire Rating
Some Like It Hot
5 Star Empire Rating

Matchstick Men
This tale of grifters on the make is a class act on every level.


submit to reddit


Plot
Roy and Frank are a mismatched duo of low-level con men, considering that one is an obsessive-compulsive and the other a louche chancer. But their dysfunctional partnership and Roy's teetering sanity face an even bigger challenge in the shape of Roy's 14 year-old daughter.


Review
After the bullish brunt of making Gladiator, Hannibal and Black Hawk Down in quick succession, you can see why Ridley Scott's curiosity was piqued by this relatively low-wattage study of fragmenting lives, set against a bleached-out Los Angeles only a cab ride from the studio. Just five characters, a wash of small-time criminality and an emphasis on matters of the heart. Broadly speaking, it is a comedy.

The script's loose-limbed dialogue and teasingly back-to-front ethics - Roy, a con man, is dedicated to playing the moral guardian to his zesty daughter - make for ripe, complex set-ups. The plot only flirts with the wacky, elaborate grifts, being more concerned with paying off on its emotional trickery to bring the father-daughter bonding to fragrant life.

Most of this is down to the magical Miss Lohman. Sloughing away the designer jailbait brathood of vacuum-packed stars such as Hilary Duff and Amanda Bynes, Lohman inhabits a bright, tomboyish 14 year-old, flip-flopping between hair-trigger tears and the most beguiling movie smile since Natalie Portman in her heyday. Amazing to think Lohman's really 24.

Cage's rattling cage is nothing new, but his vibrant pick 'n' mix of tics and stutters lacks the testy impact of Nicholson's recent compulsions. It's his exhaustive attempts at parenthood that reveal the man. Meanwhile, Rockwell purrs out his slick dialogue, a sub-role to the main drama, but one thick with humour.

Understandably and encouragingly, none of this feels like a Ridley Scott movie. Restrained in style and paced to the slow, midday thrum of a swollen summer, you might as well be strolling the sidewalks of one of Barry Levinson's family talkathons.

Scott's artistry is working in a subtler mode, editing to the jerky, awkward beats of Roy's mania, filling the frame with lurid, troubling POV shots that give the audience the uncomfortable sensation of having developed their own mental shudders. Ironically, it is one of the healthiest choices the director has made in years.


Verdict
Scott tucks away his visual athletics in favour of something leisurely and quietly devastating. It's ultimately far more cunning a script than we can reveal here.


Reviewed by Ian Nathan

Write Your Review
To write your review please login or register.

Your Reviews

Average user rating for Matchstick Men
Empire Star Rating

RE: Matchstick Men

Very under-rated film IMO. Probably one of my favourite Cage films who is helped along by the awesome Rockwell. ... More

Posted by Castor Troy at 11:22, 09 March 2006 | Report This Post


RE: Matchstick Men

fantastic, great stuff a quite strange and intresting movie - 4/5 ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Zaphod121 at 21:42, 08 March 2006 | Report This Post


RE: Matchstick Men

Great stuff from Ridley Scott with great performances by Rockwell, Lohman and Cage.  Avoid all trailers and watch it with no preconceptions for maximum effect. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Caster at 21:10, 08 March 2006 | Report This Post


Matchstick Men

Quite simply one of the msot enjoyable films you could ever watch. Great stuff, with an on form cast and director. One of the great films twists ever and am not exaggerating. **** ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by doncopey1 at 19:03, 08 March 2006 | Report This Post


SPECIAL FEATURE
The 301 Greatest Movies Of All Time EMPIRE READERS' POLL: THE 301 GREATEST MOVIES OF ALL TIME
You turned out in your hundreds and thousands, and here are the results... Browse the full list


CURRENT HIGHLIGHTS
The Future Of Film: A Woman Will Direct Star Wars
No longer a men’s club, Hollywood is going to start opening its doors...

The Empire Podcast #130: Interviews With Rosamund Pike, Lee Child And Antoine Fuqua
The Gone Girl star, Jack Reacher author and The Equalizer director pop in for a chat

The Future Of Film: Movie Posters Will Talk To You (And Buy Your Tickets)
Movie posters will be bigger, better... and talk to you?

The 50 Greatest Voice Performances In Movies
Who has the most talented tonsils in town?

25 Movie Songs Bigger Than The Movie
The film tunes that transcend their origins...

Denzel Washington: A Viewer’s Guide
The highs and lows of The Equalizer star’s career to date

The Making Of The Lost Pilot: An Oral History
The cast and crew look back at the epic season opener…

Subscribe to Empire magazine
Get 6 Issues Of Empire For Only £15!

Get exclusive subscriber-only covers each month!

Subscribe today

Subscribe to Empire iPad edition
Get The Empire iPad Edition Today

Subscribe and save maney on annual digital subscription

Subscribe today
Buy single issues

Get 6 issues of Empire for just £15!
Get the world's greatest movie magazine delivered straight to your door! Subscribe today!
Empire's Film Studies 101 Series
Everything you ever wanted to know about filmmaking but were afraid to ask...
The Empire iPad Edition
With exclusive extras, interactive features, trailers and much more! Download now
Home  |  News  |  Blogs  |  Reviews  |  Future Films  |  Features  |  Interviews  |  Images  |  Competitions  |  Forum  |  iPad  |  Podcast  |  Magazine Contact Us  |  Empire FAQ  |  Subscribe To Empire  |  Register
© Bauer Consumer Media Ltd  |  Legal Info  |  Editorial Complaints  |  Privacy Policy  |  Bauer Entertainment Network
Bauer Consumer Media Ltd (company number 01176085 and registered address 1 Lincoln Court, Lincoln Road, Peterborough, England PE1 2RF)