Published Sep 01, 2004Richard Gaddis is more of a selfish and greedy capitalist then a conman; he's like a nastier version of Gordon Gecko. John C. Reilly gives Gaddis no redeemable values and turns him into a grade A asshole. He even goes so far as to screw the brother he loves out of his inheritance.
Criminal takes place over 24 hours in Los Angeles, where an experienced conman recruits a far younger inexperienced one as his partner. As they go on in the day doing expected rip offs of innocent people, it takes a turn for athe big heist at a hotel where Gaddis's sister works. Richard's sister Valerie (Maggie Gyllenhaal) is in the middle of a lengthy legal battle for the custody of his younger brother, which has caused animosity between them. Valerie is the only person who sees Richard for the lowly slime ball he is and pretty much wants him and his criminal colleagues out of the hotel.
Gyllenhaal has a mesmerising scene near the end of the film when Richard has offered her to a billionaire he is trying to swindle to close the con. With just facial expressions, she shows the heartbreak, anger and betrayal of her character; it is here that Gaddis is finally exposed as a soulless ghoul.
Every heist film ends with someone getting screwed, but if the film wasn't trying to give us a payoff and instead made it more personal, it may have been a more memorable movie. It has tons of energy and breezy, witty dialogue but it doesn't make up for the familiarity of the plot and the illogical conclusion. (Warner Independent)