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Hacktreks Travel

Hacktreks 2

First Chapters



Dir James Foley

Starring: Ed Burns, Rachel Weisz, Dustin Hoffman, Robert Forster

James Foley’s intricate and head-spinning thriller CONFIDENCE is devoted to the antics of a merry band of grifters led by Jake Vig (Edward Burns), a brutally conceited con-man who has bitten off a lot more than he is accustomed to chewing and digesting comfortably Inadvertently stealing $150,000 from a vengeful petty gang lord, the paternalistic and pompous King (Dustin Hoffman), he and his awestruck cronies are obliged to concoct a much bigger scam involving King’s arch- enemy Morgan Price ( Robert Forster), a slick banker who specializes in money laundering, in order to repay the vicious motor-mouth King. They hope to score $5 million with a fake corporate bank loan swindled from the Price Bank. To this end Jake hires spirited pick-pocket Lily (Rachel Weisz) to seduce a gullible loans manager into accepting a phony letter of intent. Jake’s co-conspirators are able to pass as MBA types even though they have been bumbling blue-collar losers often in the past. Talk about a con,huh? And they think that they are so smooth and plausible!

The film zips mercurially from past to present piling bad guys upon even more bad guys - each grifter with an elaborate con of his own going - two corrupt L.A. cops Manzano and Whitworth ( Luis Guzman and Donal Logue), who oil the machinery for the Vig gang, and a seedy FBI agent Gunther Butan ( Andy Garcia – who chews the scenery almost as assiduously as does Hoffman), It seems that everyone is on the take and nobody understands that nobody should ever be taken at face value. Frankly the underhand motives of the Vig gang are so transparent at all times that the audience has to be unusually gullible to accept these smirking simulacrums as the Real McCoy. The problem being that Ed Burns seems so smitten with his own uber-cool and extravagant ability to fool all of the people all of the time that he has no human qualities that lead us to empathize with his plight. He has every confidence in his own skill at pulling the wool over others’ eyes but such arrogance is hugely unappealing and playing everyone as a puppet with God-like powers is disconcerting. A man of his ilk would not have a single friend in the world.

Such ultra-cool heads seldom rule the roost in real life since they fail to understand the meaning of loyalty and of steadfastness in human relations. To them all that matters is the surface and the glitter and the superficiae.The figure of the confidence-trickster in American literature and cinema is a hallowed one and has to be presented as a figure with feet-of-clay: a man whose hubris must lead to a dramatic fall from grace, one from which he is allowed to bounce back after the inevitable humiliation and exposure to the hard realities of life as lived among the honest, the plain, and the hard-working, no matter how tempting it is to profit without effort but merely from the efforts of hard-working others who choose to pay far less attention to mere appearances and do not expect fortune to fall in their laps thanks to a winning grin, a cajoling voice and superhuman self-confidence.

© Alex Grant April 25th 2003

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