FLOGGING THE AUDIENCE WITH A MATCHSTICK
There's a lot to like in Matchstick Men, but it is really all in the performances. This film is essentially a star vehicle for Nicholas Cage and company and they certainly deliver, but, in the end, I wanted to stand up and yell at the screen, "Okay, you've all had fun, can we play too?"
The problem with this film is the lack of any delightful pay-off for the audience. We get set-up for a great twist, but then when the twist comes, it just feels dreadful and creepy. The movie then goes on for another fifteen minutes of meandering, trying to convince us that this creepy ending is really the best thing for all...but I didn't like it. It's a sanctimonious Hollywood ending that makes the case that love and being a carpet salesman is better than being rich and clever -- but does anybody REALLY believe that? I guess if I see Nicholas Cage giving away all his money and fame and settling down in a lower middle class domicile with a grocery store check out girl...and that's surely going to happen any day.
I found the dark and disturbing last act of the film to be completely irreconciliable in tone to the first two acts which were funny and humane. I walked away no better than I was when I started, except for the fact that now I'm wondering if my parents are actually really my parents or if maybe they've been conning me all these decades...if that's being better.
If you have nothing else to do, Matchstick Men won't make you sick. It won't make you well though either.