The Con Is On is a screwball crime comedy starring actors who have no problems playing up the absurd angles of an unconventional heist. The intention of the film is to bust the audience into fits of laughter but, instead, the only thing that’s busted is the film itself.
The Con Is On is often stuck in a routine rut: the plot runs in circles until it collapses, prompting writer/director James Haslam to shabbily patch the loose ends together until the next big spill. However, Haslam’s movie depends on a strong cast to drive the film through any narrative shortcomings. But even with a strong team of on-screen talent (Uma Thurman, Tim Roth, Maggie Q, Sofia Vergara, Parker Posey, Alice Eve, Crispin Glover), it’s all for naught due to behind-the-scenes motivation that defies any sort of preparation.
Thurman and Roth (tapping into their memories of Pulp Fiction) play disheveled scam artists who devise a plot to steal a priceless jewel from a wealthy couple (Eve and Glover) in order to settle a score with a deadly mobster (Maggie Q). The scheming, however, is hampered by an ever-elaborating plan as kooky distractions pose more problems for the crooks.
This would be a lucrative premise if the film wasn’t so disinterested in it. After spinning its wheels with cheeky dialogue and ham-fisted sophistication, The Con Is On loses focus on the prize and allows the actors to steal the movie away from Haslam. Granted, movie goers don’t sense too much of a struggle between the cast and the filmmaker. But by being more aloof, The Con Is On inherits some excruciating bad habits; including smug comedy that believes its bulletproof and a droopy pace that becomes detrimental to the slick style.
With each mistake, The Con Is On reminded me more and more of Mortdecai, another incoherent crime comedy loaded with unfathomable decisions by everyone involved. Both films also share the dishonour of being among the worst films released in their respective year.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie