Warner Bros. Pictures | Release Date: September 12, 2003
8.7
USER SCORE
Universal acclaim based on 221 Ratings
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Positive:
198
Mixed:
15
Negative:
8
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7
Benkoko11Feb 23, 2017
Most striking of the takeaways from this thoughtful crime thriller is that obsessively neurotic is the only character type Cage can play that will make us laugh with him instead of at him.
1 of 1 users found this helpful10
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6
FilmClubMar 27, 2016
A small-scaled change-of-pace for director Ridley Scott after his run of high-profile extravaganzas “Gladiator,” “Hannibal” and “Black Hawk Down,” “Matchstick Men” is a coldly crafty character piece about some seriously quirky L.A. scamA small-scaled change-of-pace for director Ridley Scott after his run of high-profile extravaganzas “Gladiator,” “Hannibal” and “Black Hawk Down,” “Matchstick Men” is a coldly crafty character piece about some seriously quirky L.A. scam artists. Odd mixture of ultra-sleek visuals, psychological probing, “Paper Moon”-like father-daughter swindling, self-improvement efforts and abrupt tough-guy stuff keeps the picture percolating, even if it seems too artificial to genuinely convince on an emotional or dramatic level.

Based on a novel by Eric Garcia — author of the “Rex” dinosaur-disguised-as-a-detective novels — script by “Ocean’s 11” scenarist Ted Griffin and his brother Nicholas feels like a companion piece of sorts to “Catch Me if You Can” in its breezy approach to the con game laced with more serious father-sprig ramifications. Comparisons to Spielberg’s recent hit extend even to the style of the opening credits and the heavy use of upbeat, jazzy tunes featuring the likes of Sinatra and Bobby Darin.

But unlike the high-flying Frank Abagnale in “Catch,” the title characters here are strictly low-rent grifters. Senior member of the team, Roy Waller (Nicolas Cage), is a world-class neurotic, a nervous-tick-ridden neatnik who hasn’t had a personal relationship in years and assumes a commanding air of authority only when conning some poor sucker over the phone or posing as a Federal Trade Commission official in order to obtain a family’s bank account number.

His partner Frank (Sam Rockwell) is a more recognizably scummy operator, a young man on the make who’s equally at home hustling a high roller as he is talking a little old lady out of her life savings. Working out of a small office in an anonymous part of Los Angeles, the odd couple makes ends meet with their little scams, but hasn’t yet landed a big score.

Much of the early-going is devoted to elaborate detailing of Roy’s obsessive habits, such as manically cleaning his impersonal ’50s-style home and counting to three before opening a door. Even these amusingly banal activities are leant a dark visual splendor by the imaginative images conjured by Scott and lenser John Mathieson, who have worked overtime to divide their blue-and-black-dominated compositions into horizontal and vertical patterns with the set details and slatted light.

Acknowledging to his new shrink (a very good Bruce Altman) that he may have a 14-year-old kid by his ex-wife, who was pregnant when they split, the reluctant Roy allows the doc to investigate, leading to the disturbed man’s nervous first meeting with Angela (Alison Lohman). At first glance a normal skateboarding, backpack-wearing kid, Angela seems delighted to meet her dad, whom she’d always been told was an imprisoned criminal. Announcing that she’s “taken off” from her mom for a couple of days, she settles in with Roy, whose initial pose of being an antique dealer soon crumbles as the truth comes out.

For most of the way, Scott keeps the mood jaunty and lightly engaging in an unforced manner. Much of this stems from the sheer eccentricity of Cage’s character, an intense agoraphobe with a frequently twitching left eye whose mania for cleanliness would make Felix Unger look like Oscar Madison. Cage adds to the physical manifestations of Roy’s instability with some fearsome rages and amusing attempts to behave as he imagines a dad should; his efforts at being an authoritarian are quite funny. It’s a showy and adept perf in a role that requires Cage to hopscotch abruptly, often from one level to another.

Rockwell, whose Chuck Barris in “Confessions of a Dangerous Mind” allegedly pulled much bigger scams for considerably larger stakes, seems right at home as the raffish Frank, who’s presented with no extra dimensions. It’s left to Lohman, so impressive in “White Oleander,” to provide a little heft, which she does by investing Angela with a sympathetically charged mix of youthful toughness and vulnerability; pic picks up notably whenever she’s onscreen.

Although yarn ends on an agreeably human note that suggests growth and potential as well as disappointment for those left on the short end of the con, “Matchstick Men” never really casts off its cloak of artificiality and calculation; its pleasures are minor, however distracting they may be.

Obviously inspired by Nino Rota in lighthearted Fellini mode, Hans Zimmer’s score pushes hard to establish an effervescent mood. As usual with Scott’s films, this one is immaculately appointed in all departments, with Tom Foden’s production design combining with a decision to generally avoid familiar L.A. landmarks in order achieve a feel of Anywheresville, U.S.A.
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10
timrichieOct 8, 2014
Alison Lohman is genius here, and Cage deserves an Oscar nod as well, but Ridley Scott is the one who deserves all the praise. If anyone, anywhere, asked you about cinematic brilliance, tell them to look no further than Matchstick Men.
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8
SpangleJul 31, 2014
This one is very well done. Nicolas Cage and Sam Rockwell make for a great pair of leads. Both are very likable and convincing as con men. Cage, in particular, as a man struggling with OCD is very good and really portrays the struggles of anThis one is very well done. Nicolas Cage and Sam Rockwell make for a great pair of leads. Both are very likable and convincing as con men. Cage, in particular, as a man struggling with OCD is very good and really portrays the struggles of an OCD man very, very well. Alison Lohman is also very convincing in this one and does a good job in her role. Ridley Scott's direction is also very strong as usual and shows good focus. The script is also solid. This one is called a comedy drama, but it was never really that funny, so it missed the mark there, but the drama was well done. The characters were all very well developed and you really feel like you know them all by the end of the film. In addition, the ending is particularly strong and very unexpected, which makes it all the more effective. Overall, this one is not some world beating film, but it is a well made one and a very entertaining film that keeps you hooked until the very end. Expand
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9
HenrySAug 15, 2009
This is quite an amazing movie, mainly because Alison Lohman's performance was enough to knock anyone off their seats, I still have a hard time believing she was really 23 then! and the end is indeed original, loved it all.
1 of 1 users found this helpful
9
JakeFeb 5, 2007
Cage is great in this film. He plays the part extremly well. It is a very humorous movie with a great story. Rockwell and Lohman were great for the roles that they played. They gelled very well with Cage.
2 of 2 users found this helpful
8
DaraHMudeMar 20, 2006
its a great movie i think. i like the scene where cage and angela hangout together... the ending makes the movie even more unforgettable. i wish it would not end up like that because their relationship was very beautiful.
1 of 1 users found this helpful
4
matta.Dec 6, 2005
Predictable tripe for the most part. I could see the ending "twist" coming a mile away. Also, honestly do you really think that Cage would have reacted that way at the end? That calmly towards a person that totally manipulated hiim and stole Predictable tripe for the most part. I could see the ending "twist" coming a mile away. Also, honestly do you really think that Cage would have reacted that way at the end? That calmly towards a person that totally manipulated hiim and stole all his money? Even if he is happy and content at that point, he wouldn't be that nice about it. Anyway, Lohman and Rockwell are pretty good and that helps the film from being a total waste of time. Expand
0 of 2 users found this helpful
9
marshman88Nov 23, 2005
It was really good. i'd definately watch it again. Grade: 9.1
0 of 1 users found this helpful
8
G.M.D.K.May 5, 2005
With amazing performances and a retro style with the camera,this films is what you may ask for when you have a hunger for a movie.
0 of 0 users found this helpful
7
raVenAug 9, 2004
(7.5) -Better con than "Confidence," with a superior twist. But I agree with Pat that the twist, when it comes, will make you hate the movie a little bit before finally relenting that it was nothing personal, just good filmmaking. (Think (7.5) -Better con than "Confidence," with a superior twist. But I agree with Pat that the twist, when it comes, will make you hate the movie a little bit before finally relenting that it was nothing personal, just good filmmaking. (Think Usual Suspects) The problem is that it spends 90% of its running time making us FEEL that it's personal. That what happens to Cage MATTERS to us. It does, in fact, do such a good job of making us care, that when the payoff comes, it feels like a deeper cut than it should for a happy ending. The tag line "you didn't take it, I gave it to you" thus sounds more than a little hollow, just as it would have to any of Cage's many victims. A paper thin - but substantive - difference between good and great. Quite worthwhile nevertheless. Expand
0 of 0 users found this helpful
7
PatC.Apr 20, 2004
A subdued light crime drama with little power but without major flaws. Contains clever situations, polish, generally good acting, and a dash of intelligence. Familiar in its Sting-like con of a con man, but the simultaneous conning of the A subdued light crime drama with little power but without major flaws. Contains clever situations, polish, generally good acting, and a dash of intelligence. Familiar in its Sting-like con of a con man, but the simultaneous conning of the audience was done in such a way as to cast doubt on the credibility of elements that rang true: Lohman's performance as a destabilized teen-ager was too authentic to be passed off as role-playing. Commendable in its respect for parenthood and its beautiful understated interspersion of non-formula gathering-romantic-attraction spots between Cage's character and a supermarket check-out lady. Safe, solid and disposable entertainment. Expand
0 of 0 users found this helpful
7
JonathanH.Apr 3, 2004
Well acted by all involved, the ending wasn't too good, i actually predicted it but the acting makes in quite enjoyable.
0 of 0 users found this helpful
9
BennettM.Mar 21, 2004
Another Cage classic, this movie is a funny and smart flick with more twists than a twizzler.
0 of 0 users found this helpful
10
FernandoG.Mar 14, 2004
Alison Lohman is the best part of the movie.
0 of 0 users found this helpful
6
GregH.Mar 6, 2004
"Fight Club," "Sixth Sense," "Vanilla Sky," John Cusak's "Identity," "A Beautiful Mind," etc. I am really getting tired of being tricked, or in the case of "Matchstick Men," conned into watching one movie only to find out in the end "Fight Club," "Sixth Sense," "Vanilla Sky," John Cusak's "Identity," "A Beautiful Mind," etc. I am really getting tired of being tricked, or in the case of "Matchstick Men," conned into watching one movie only to find out in the end that I've been watching some completely different movie. Ridley Scott pulls it off as well as any of them and I enjoyed the ride, but give me a good old fashioned straight ahead narrative any day. Expand
0 of 0 users found this helpful
8
JoshL.Mar 1, 2004
This movie was immensely entertaining and had some high quality acting jobs by Cage, Lohman, and Rockwell. Its the best movie David Mamet didn't make.
0 of 0 users found this helpful
10
PaulFeb 7, 2004
THE MOVIE ROCKS.....nicolas cage is great...reminds me of a not-quite-as -good oceans eleven....get this movie when it comes out on dvd.
0 of 0 users found this helpful
7
BenA.Dec 4, 2003
This was a good movie. Things just work out a little TOO perfectly, no?
0 of 1 users found this helpful
10
SeanS.Nov 23, 2003
Truly a masterpiece!
0 of 0 users found this helpful
6
XiongC.Oct 18, 2003
Entertaining at the start, went downhill fast, and eventually left me feeling ripped off.
0 of 0 users found this helpful
0
MickeyOct 18, 2003
Too stupid to be believed? You can see the end coming about one third into the picture.
0 of 1 users found this helpful
7
TrinimanOct 16, 2003
Nicolas Cage is pretty funny and a neurotic conman, but it's not an Oscar-worthy performance. At the end of the film, you may think that the story was too unbelievable to be a great film. Still, without giving the story away, this is a Nicolas Cage is pretty funny and a neurotic conman, but it's not an Oscar-worthy performance. At the end of the film, you may think that the story was too unbelievable to be a great film. Still, without giving the story away, this is a an entertaining film and worth watching. It's about as satisfying as Ocean's Eleven, which apparently had the same screen writers. Expand
0 of 0 users found this helpful
8
StarfoxOct 6, 2003
Lots of fun! Great look and fantastic soundtrack. The con is on!
0 of 0 users found this helpful
8
BarryR.Oct 3, 2003
"Matchstick Men" starring Nicolas Cage, Alison Lohman and directed by Ridley Scott is an intricate tight drama with plot twists and turns that would make David Mamet proud. Cage does a more than adequate job and shares accolades with 24 year "Matchstick Men" starring Nicolas Cage, Alison Lohman and directed by Ridley Scott is an intricate tight drama with plot twists and turns that would make David Mamet proud. Cage does a more than adequate job and shares accolades with 24 year old Alison Lohman who appears as a 14 year old in the picture. Although well acted and well written, the movie gets a little tied up in the end and the knots don't always fit the loop. This is a movie that, in retrospect, will appear better than it was when you were watching it. Neverthess, one is never bored or tired and that is because of the well written script and script turns that make you really ponder what is taking place. Over 2 hours in length, one is never tired of watching the film as the intricacies of the plot make you literally follow every action and hang upon every word. Perhaps, with a better ending and less unanswered questions, the movie would earn 3 stars but, because of the latter, it gets an 8.0 Expand
0 of 0 users found this helpful
0
TarmaR.IIIOct 3, 2003
Betrayed is the only word you'll ever say to me.
0 of 1 users found this helpful
9
NickV.Sep 29, 2003
How do u not like this movie, you must have it confused with another one.
0 of 0 users found this helpful
1
BobH.Sep 27, 2003
Lame is the best way to describe this mess. It is so full of holes it would be better off as swiss cheese. Twitching one head does not a make a good movie. Sorry Charlie, but this was bad.
0 of 1 users found this helpful
9
ChadS.Sep 24, 2003
Even if you're savvy to "The Spanish Prisoner" echo, there's still a lot to admire here. Alison Lohman, at 24, plays 14 without any accidental lolita underpinnings. Angela seems more informed by Marsha Brady than Britney Spears. Even if you're savvy to "The Spanish Prisoner" echo, there's still a lot to admire here. Alison Lohman, at 24, plays 14 without any accidental lolita underpinnings. Angela seems more informed by Marsha Brady than Britney Spears. The "intricate" plot is for the naifs, but the performances by Lohman and Nicolas Cage(welcome back, Sean Penn was right, fella) are undeniably strong, so you can't pan the film based only on your ability to figure stuff out. "Matchstick Men" would still be a successful film without the ongoing confidence game. Expand
0 of 0 users found this helpful
8
BitBurnSep 24, 2003
I really enjoyed that movie. Cage and Rockwell are just amazing. Great original story with plenty of guts.
0 of 0 users found this helpful
3
FantasySep 23, 2003
Started out with good intentions but half way through the movie it started to unravel like a cheap suit. The ending was absolutely ludicrous and could be spotted a mile away.
0 of 1 users found this helpful
2
COryRSep 17, 2003
It started off great but the ending was awful. I can't believe that ............ What kind of ending is that. It made no sense.
0 of 1 users found this helpful
10
[Anonymous]Sep 14, 2003
I felt betrayed at the end of the movie. But that's what you're suppose to feel. Nicholas Cage is very funny and this is an unbelievably interesting movie.
0 of 0 users found this helpful
9
JerryT.Sep 14, 2003
This is a very good movie. It has a VERY suprising ending. Only a handful of movies are movies that you can not predict. I could not predict a thing about this movie. GO WATCH IT YOU FOOLS! oh and its a 9 out of 10 because the movie had an This is a very good movie. It has a VERY suprising ending. Only a handful of movies are movies that you can not predict. I could not predict a thing about this movie. GO WATCH IT YOU FOOLS! oh and its a 9 out of 10 because the movie had an ending i didn't predict. Expand
0 of 0 users found this helpful
8
AMovieCriticSep 13, 2003
I really liked the movie. It was entertaining, surprising, etc. I really only saw this movie because there wasn't much else to see, and I was surprised. VERY GOOD.
0 of 0 users found this helpful
8
JohnY.Sep 13, 2003
Here's a film you want to like more than you did. The performances are superb, the script is charming and observant at the same time, and Scott?s direction provides for a visually impressive canvas. Yet, it overstays its welcome, Here's a film you want to like more than you did. The performances are superb, the script is charming and observant at the same time, and Scott?s direction provides for a visually impressive canvas. Yet, it overstays its welcome, providing an ending that may be clever, but feels tacked on for shock value. Still, see this for Cage. Expand
0 of 0 users found this helpful
5
MaikuT.Sep 13, 2003
This movie started out really good. But the ending totally sucks. I feel SO 'con'ed by the ending ... Do yourself a favor and leave 20 minutes before the movie is over.
0 of 1 users found this helpful
6
JerryH.Sep 12, 2003
Great performances by Cage and Lohman and wonderful cinematography let down by a lame script. You might enjoy it or hate it but either way you can't help but feel ripped off.
0 of 1 users found this helpful
7
CrowleeSep 10, 2003
Solid movie from beginning to end. Light hearted and funny with a touching emotional core, MM takes a different look at the con artist film with entertaining results. Cage and Lohman are excellent with Cage clearly displaying how much of a Solid movie from beginning to end. Light hearted and funny with a touching emotional core, MM takes a different look at the con artist film with entertaining results. Cage and Lohman are excellent with Cage clearly displaying how much of a quality and quirky actor he can be. For the first time in years, Ridley Scott puts away the cool camera tricks and directs for the story and characters. Editing was a bit off with some scenes roaming for way too long and others being abruptly cut. The biggest problem is everyone in the theater knows what the twist is going to be but the people in front of and behind the camera make the film enjoyable enough that you go along for the ride. Expand
0 of 0 users found this helpful
7
WilliamM.Sep 9, 2003
I enjoyed the look, the feel, and the pacing of the film, but unfortunately, I was able to accurately predict the plot WAY too early in the film. Knowing where it would go, it was still entertaining, but not nearly as much as it could have I enjoyed the look, the feel, and the pacing of the film, but unfortunately, I was able to accurately predict the plot WAY too early in the film. Knowing where it would go, it was still entertaining, but not nearly as much as it could have been. Kudos to Sam Rockewell and Alison Lohman for a pair of excellent performances. Expand
0 of 0 users found this helpful