“Matchstick Men” can be simply referred to as a smooth,
stylistic film full of surprises and one twitching Nicholas Cage.
Directed by the great Ridley Scott (“Alien”), this film is crafted
flawlessly, meshing together a great number of genres into one
In its two-hour running time, the viewer is able to experience a
family drama, sleek crime thriller, comedy and a psychological
drama. Though not thought provoking, it’s fun and smart like other
recent con-artist films such as “Catch Me If You Can” and Steven
Soderbergh’s re-make of “Ocean’s 11.”
“Matchstick Men” is the tale of Roy Walker (Nicholas Cage), a
single man with quite a few psychological defects that surprisingly
don’t get in the way of his charming con-artist ways. Roy
experiences Tourrette Syndrome, a phobia of germs and the outdoors,
as well as obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Frank (Sam Rockwell, “Heist”) is Roy’s partner in crime; he’s
your average smart-ass thief constantly sporting a wife beater.
Frank faithfully supports Roy through his mental breakdowns, his
main purpose being to balance out the genius in their illegal
As they start a money-laundering scheme to rip off a wealthy
businessman, Roy experiences a breakdown after losing his
medication. This forces him to seek therapy for more medication,
resulting in him probing for answers about his ex-wife and the
child she was pregnant with when he left her.
He discovers that he has a 14 year-old daughter, Angela (Alison
Lohman, “White Oleander”). Angela bursts into Roy’s life both
setting off his neurosis and medicating them with her dirtiness,
sweetness and desire to learn from her new-found criminal
This father-daughter team does a fabulous job of giving the film
its candy coating and charm. Eventually Ray does blur his two jobs,
family and work, leading to chaos, heartbreak and corruption.
Cage is able to perfectly portray Roy both in his subdued
moments and at times where his psychosis flares up, making him
twitch, sputter and lose mental balance. However, Cage’s acting
seems simply to recall his prior role as the neurotic protagonist
brothers in “Adaptation.” Even though Cage is a brilliant
performer, this pattern in his films simply make you want to see
him in a simple comedy where he isn’t always sweating and running
around in search of something or someone.
Lohman helps carry “Matchstick Men” in her quite-lovely
depiction of a double-crossing 14 year-old. Especially since in
reality she is shockingly 23 years old and still captures the
essence of that age and character.
For fans of the glossy, overly-commercialized film, “Matchstick
Men” offers the requisite thrills, warms your heart and makes you
laugh. Ridley Scott entertains his audience as usual with a
soundtrack that is primarily filled with Frank Sinatra and Cage
fathering a 23-year-old woman, all tied neatly together with a
Rating: 4 stars