Directed by Gregory Jacobs, starring John C Reilly, Diego Luna, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Peter Mullan, Zitto Kazann and Jonathan Tucker.

In 'Criminal', Gregory Jacobs makes his directorial debut by offering his take on the popular Argentinean film 'Nueve Reinas' ('Nine Queens'), a film about what happens when the player gets played.

Rodrigo (Luna) is a small-time hustler, pulling scams in casinos across Los Angeles, until he meets straight-talking Richard Gaddis (Reilly) that is, and learns that his petty rip-offs could be worth far more than he thinks. So after initial misgivings, the mismatched pair decide to pool their efforts in the name of ripping people off.

With their combined devious ways, Richard and Rodrigo (whom his new partner in crime renames 'Brian' in an attempt to make him blend better with the suits of LA) begin to work the city. Set over a 24-hour period, the film follows their stunts, from conning money out of old women to attempting to pull off a huge swindle.

As fate would have it, the pair stumble upon a scam too good to pass up, when a dodgy opportunity to make some cash falls right in front of them. With currency collector William Hannigan (Mullan) in town, and the ability to get their hands on a very rare bill, a 1878 Monroe Silver Certificate, everything seems to be fitting into place a little too comfortably.

But Gaddis, the dominant operator in the pairing, is also becoming a little too quick to make the decisions and Brian starts to sweat it that maybe not all will be as promised, especially when Richard's estranged and very bitter sister Valerie (Gyllenhaal) seems to be willing to go to any lengths to stop their operations. But, in the sleazy world they inhabit, her co-operation can be bought at the right price, like almost everything else.

Although 'Criminal' is not the kind of film that will leave you in awe, it does boast very stylish production values and is beautifully shot against the backdrop of Los Angeles. Luna plays the hapless, smarter than he looks, sidekick with great ease, in places overshadowing the immense presence that Reilly always adds to a movie. But while they connect well on screen, you're left with the impression that there was always something missing from this remake. 

Often when you expect more you get less.

Linda McGee