Awash with noirish neons and chopped into quick-witted, stylish chunks, Confidence wastes no time in messing with your expectations.
The tale's told in flashback by Jake Vig (Edward Burns), a slick shyster who specialises in ripping off big criminals - 'til he robs the bagman for crooked clublord Winston King (Dustin Hoffman). When King orders a lethal payback, Vig decides to own up and offer to return the money - if Mr K will help fund a proposed 'final' bank con. But it's not quite that simple. King's backing has henchman-shaped conditions, there's a determined FBI agent (Andy Garcia) on their tail and Jake also needs to hire some sex appeal if he's going to fleece horny merchant bankers. Enter Rachel Weisz's petty thief and you have the makings of a powder keg set-up that's rigged to blow...
Initially nimble on its feet, Doug Jung's script is tripped up by the sheer number of scams on show, the crosses doubling, tripling and even quadrupling until surprise turns to eye-rolling frustration. This isn't helped any by the director playing up the old trick of sending the film skipping backwards so you can see exactly how it scammed you the first time. But while the tired, will-they won't-they-who-bloody-cares? chemistry between Weisz and Burns never strikes many sparks, thank goodness for the quick-witted puns traded between Jake and his associates Gordo (reliable supporting star Paul Giamatti) and Miles (a fresh comic turn from Brian Van Holt). And, towering over the lot of them is Hoffman, channelling Raymond Babbit's evil twin brother - all raging anger bubbling under his surface, waiting to be twitched into life as he effortlessly heists his scenes from under Burns' nose.
His performance lights up the script, which meticulously sets up the various cons and keeps the performers on their toes. But it's so busy running in circles, twisting and turning around the viewer, that it never stands still long enough to get the characters in focus. In fact, the best deception Confidence ever pulls off is convincing you it's better than it actually is.