Literally had to look up Alison Lohman’s age in Matchstick Men because it wasn’t matching up for me.
Nicolas Cage plays Roy Waller, a con man who’s pretty good at his job, but it’s apparent that he’s not proud of what he does. On top of that, Waller has tourettes and OCD, so he’s always twitching and having the urge to clean up his house under moments of severe stress. Roy takes medication to keep the tics at bay. On top of all this mental baggage, Roy also finds out that he has a daughter. Now, Roy has to learn to be a father as he preps for one of the biggest cons of his life. As far as Nicolas Cage films go, this is a straightforward character drama directed by one of the most prolific directors of all time. There’s plenty of Nic Cage mannerisms to fill out the film, but it’s done in service of the story as well as the character’s development.
BEST CAGE MOMENT:
There’s a sequence where Roy has run out of his prescription medication and he needs to call his psychiatrist to fill it out, except for one thing: his shrink is out of office! In a state of utter panic, Roy drives to the pharmacy looking to fill out a prescription. This is the point where Nicolas Cage is allowed to let loose as Roy’s tics take full control. The frantic nature of the cinematography and editing also complement the performance really well and it leaves you in a state of unease. Just like a Coke bottle that’s been shaken up, Cage’s performance is just waiting for the cap to be opened, and when it does, it’s an eruption of joy.
I wish Ridley Scott and Nicolas Cage worked together again, because their collaboration on Matchstick Men is dynamite. Ridley Scott perfectly utilizes Nicolas Cage and keeps him from totally going off the rails. Scott does a great job of writing compelling protagonists and Roy Waller is no exception with all his tics and mannerisms. He’s not a cartoon character, but Scott and Cage are perfectly in sync with each other that they know the right moments to hold back and when to really go for it. There’s a genuine respect and sympathy for the character of Roy and it’s because of Scott’s direction and Cage’s skills as an actor that keep the character from turning into a walking meme.
Good Cage or Bad Cage?
This is some top-tier, gourmet Cage right here! It’s not easy making a con man into a sympathetic character, but because Cage is a legitimately compelling actor, he makes Roy into a layered and sympathetic protagonist. The sweetest moments are between him and Alison Lohman who plays Roy’s daughter, and the father-daughter dynamic is believable because of the strength of both performers. Roy’s just trying to be a good dad, and even when he fumbles, you can tell that he’s genuinely trying to do right by her. If you want a Nicolas Cage film that balances between genuine and hammy, then Matchstick Men is the film for you. Unceasingly entertaining from start to finish, this is a great Nic Cage performance in an equally great movie.