Synopsis by Mark Deming
A con artist finds family squabbles are getting in the way of a major payday in this sharp blend of comedy and suspense, based on the Argentinean hit Nueve Reinas (aka Nine Queens). Richard Gaddis (John C. Reilly) is a smart-suited confidence man who knows how to run a big con but prefers to pull off a number of small scams over the course of the day, cheating a lot of folks out of a little instead of taking one or two for a lot. One day, while looking for marks at a gambling casino, Gaddis spies Rodrigo (Diego Luna), a fellow grifter with little polish but obvious talent. Gaddis takes Rodrigo under his wing, and after showing him a few tricks, the two begin working as a team. A golden opportunity presents itself when Gaddis learns the whereabouts of an incredibly valuable antique bank note just as an ideal customer is passing through town; Gaddis and Rodrigo quickly try to set up a deal that will separate cash from customer without the note actually changing hands, but the scheme proves complicated enough that others have to be brought in, causing each individual's share of the loot to dwindle. Adding to Gaddis' annoyance is the appearance of his sister Valerie (Maggie Gyllenhaal), who works at the hotel where the deal is to go down and isn't especially happy with her brother and his attempts to get his hands on the family's fortune. Criminal marked the directorial debut of Gregory Jacobs, who previously distinguished himself as a producer and assistant director.
casino, con/scam, gambling, hustler