9 out of 10


The Art of the Con

A well-rehearsed team of players act out a con where the set-up is unique. Having won a Bar in a card game, it becomes the stage. The mark enters and puts down the cash for the deal. Something goes terribly wrong and one team member is shot dead. Then the Mexican standoff with guns drawn and pointed towards each other. Nobody fires. Tension becomes unbearable as Police sirens are heard. The mark panics and flees the scene of the murder. The Police arrive and rush in with their guns. The mark drives away, escaping. Surprise!....the cops are crooked and the dead man stands up. Everyone in the bar smiles....too easy, another guinea pig. The money is divided and another mark bites the dust. The only problem is...this time around, the cash belongs to the MOB!

Now the team is in trouble. The Mob kills one of them and means business. They want their money back, in full, with interest. The leader, Jake Vig (Ed Burns of "Saving Private Ryan") is well acted and does a superb job. Having guts of steel, Jake agrees to meet mob leader, King, played by Dustin Hoffman (2-time Oscar winner), but all the money has already gone to the spouse of the dead team member. Jake therefore agrees to host cons to repay the money back to the mob. Meanwhile, FBI Agent, Gunther Buton (Andy Garcia of "Godfather III") turns the crooked cops to put pressure of bustinig the con team. You`ll never guess how the con team outwits the mob et al!

With such a believeable story line, I felt like a member of the con team. Minimal special effects, yet there was never a dull moment with many twists and turns within the plot. It`s gangsters versus modern day thieves: enemies turn into friends, friends become lovers.

Highly recommended as Lions Gate score a hit this time around!

Film Critic: Paul Wieler