It’s so refreshing to see a science fiction story that has an internal philosophy that isn’t also an overwrought “message movie.” I like that it had a specific way of thinking and that there was clearly something vital about the cycle of birth and destruction that it was trying to get across.
(2003; Nicholas Cage, Alison Lohman, Sam Rockwell, Bruce Altman; directed by Ridley Scott)
I can already sense some of my followers twisting the caps off of their Hatorade bottles, but know this: Ridley Scott is a fantastic director and Nicholas Cage, absurd as he may be, always puts on a compelling performance. It stands to reason, then, that Matchstick Men is a consistently fun and engaging movie that packs a surprising amount of warmth. In essence, Nicholas Cage plays a successful, wealthy con artist by the name of Roy Waller who’s constantly on the brink of flipping his lid who must try to raise his newly-discovered teenage daughter to the best of his ability without completely rearranging his own life. The key to this movie is not only in Nicholas Cage’s trademark instances of total insanity(“Have you ever been beaten until you PISSED!! BLOOD?!?!?”), but in the honesty that comes with the film’s portrayal of fatherhood. Roy has only the vaguest notion of how to raise a child, one which begins and ends with the instinct that children should not eat ice cream at every meal, and his daughter, ably played by Alison Lohman, is realistically put out by the idea that she can’t manipulate his dopiness to her heart’s content. The story moves at a nice clip too-from a con-gone-wrong car chase to a simple scene where Roy discusses his anxiety problems with his psychiatrist, there isn’t a dull scene in the entire movie. Even though it’s in many ways a pat script, these characters have a sense of reality to them the grounds the movie through some of its more outlandish moments and in fact gives them more weight, and the twist at the end is one of the best “hidden in plain sight” reveals I’ve ever seen. Matchstick Men won’t change your life, but it’ll prove to be about the funnest way to kill an afternoon you could hope for.
— Thank you, Ridley Scott.