John C Reilly has made a career out of playing the everyman, both the good and the bad. With his cherubic face and burly build, he can be cuddly, forlorn, or menacing with equal aplomb, a talent he displays as a con man in CRIMINAL. When we talked on August 25, 2004, it was obvious that he relished the chance to play the lead character, especially one that didn’t have, as he put it, the heart of gold to be found in so many of his film roles.
Our conversation covered his seeming ubiquity in film, starring in the musical version of Marty, finding his wife in the Thai jungle, and his big break that, he assures us all, had nothing to do with a pact with Satan.
Greed makes the world go around, at least it does in the seedy world of CRIMINAL. This re-make of the Argentinian film, NINE QUEENS, has been re-imagined by writer/director Gregory Jacobs as a quirky daylight noir with a plot that spins on a dime as its twists and turns on its way to proving that it’s that same greed, not love, (pace Shakespeare) that doth make fools of us all. The case study is twenty-four hours in the life of one Richard Gaddis (John C. Reilly), a small-time Los Angeles con man with two strikes against him, a messy family situation, and a recent messy breakup with his last partner in crime.
CRIMINAL trots along at a good clip as Richard desperately tries to stay a half-step ahead of the game on which he thought he had a handle. There’s no question of rooting for him, even though he’s almost a Boy Scout compared to his mark, but watching him squirm, scheme, and squawk through it all is, for some reason, deeply satisfying.