Criminal (2004)


Criminal (2004)

In Los Angeles, Richard Gaddis and a Mexican immigrant named Rodrigo, both small time con men, meet in the progress of one of their cons gone wrong, the other who proves to be the savior in the situation. Richard is looking for someone to replace his old partner, "the Jew", so that he can move onto bigger cons, while Rodrigo is trying to obtain money to help his ill father pay off some major debts. Despite their differences in operation - Richard whose cons are more in your face and he working on the premise that one needs to look rich to get rich, while Rodrigo doesn't like to bring attention to himself and thus his grifting ways - they decide to join forces. Although neither fully trusts the other, their partnership is forged on what the other can do for him: Richard figures that Rodrigo's innocent look can play to their advantage, while Rodrigo - who Richard renames "Brian" to make him seem more Caucasian and thus trustworthy - sees working with Richard as a means to get to his financial goals quicker. After some some small cons as tests to see how the other operates and to see what his strengths and weaknesses may be, they stumble onto a bigger scam which may net them somewhere in the realm of six figures. That scam is to sell a counterfeit currency note produced by one of Richard's old and less than trustworthy associates to a collector in town, they passing the note off as the rare authentic. Beyond their potential take getting diluted with each additional person that is brought in on the scam either from the plan itself or in them needing to adapt to changing circumstances, the scam gets more more complex due to the complicated relationship Richard has with his younger siblings, Valerie and Michael, who work as a concierge and a bellboy at the same upscale hotel where much of the con will take place. But as they are both con men, is one or are both working on a bigger play without the other knowing?
IMDb   6.4 /10
Metacritic   61 %
TheMovieDb    6.3 /10
RottenTomatoes  69 %
FilmAffinity   4.6 /10
Director Gregory Jacobs
Writer Fabián Bielinsky
Writer Gregory Jacobs
Writer Steven Soderbergh
Release Date2004-09-23
Runtime1h 27min
GenreComedy, Crime, Drama
Content RatingR (R)
AwardsAwards1 nomination
CompanyWarner Independent Pictures (WIP), 2929 Productions, Section Eight
LanguageEnglish, Spanish
Richard Gaddisas Richard Gaddis
Rodrigoas Rodrigo
Valerieas Valerie
William Hanniganas William Hannigan
Ochoaas Ochoa
Michael Gaddisas Michael Gaddis
Waitressas Waitress
Waitress #2as Waitress #2
Grandmaas Grandma
Waiteras Waiter…
Nick Anavio
Nick Anavio
Café Manageras Café Manager
Woman in Elevatoras Woman in Elevator
Heatheras Heather…
Frank Hillas Frank Hill
Mrs. Ochoaas Mrs. Ochoa
Henry the Angry Manas Henry the Angry Man
Rodrigo's Dadas Rodrigo's Dad

Criminal (2004 film)

Criminal is a 2004 American film based upon the Argentine film Nine Queens. Directed by Gregory Jacobs, it stars John C. Reilly, Diego Luna, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and Maeve Quinlan and is a production of Section Eight, the production company of Steven Soderbergh and George Clooney.


Richard Gaddis is a small-time crook with a penchant for con games. To hook marks, he acts like a well-to-do businessman, dressing like one and driving a Mercedes-Benz S500, believing that one must look like a professional in order to be a successful conman.

Gaddis is searching for a new partner with whom he can perform more sophisticated cons. He discovers Rodrigo after he sees the young man playing some minor con games in a casino-bar. When Rodrigo is caught, Gaddis acts the part of a vice officer to save him from being arrested. Rodrigo's contribution is a face and naive manner so trustable that he is able to con anyone, while Richard is both completely unprincipled and clever. After several small tests to determine Rodrigo's trustworthiness, he suggests a partnership, to which Rodrigo quickly agrees.

Although Rodrigo distrusts Richard greatly, he agrees to partner him on a gigantic scam, provided he gets a percentage of the money gained to help his ailing father, who is in trouble because of his gambling debts. Richard accepts, and they plan to sell a fraudulent version of a silver certificate currency note to William Hannigan, a rich collector who is in town.

When Hannigan takes a fancy to the uptight Valerie, Gaddis' sister who is a concierge at a hotel, Gaddis is forced to pull her into the scam, the price of which is Richard's admission to their brother Michael that he has cheated him out of his share of their inheritance. The plot twists constantly as each of the characters becomes more deeply invested in the scam, and the ever-deceitful Richard tries to cheat Rodrigo, Valerie and Michael out of their share of the take.

In the twist ending, it is revealed that all the major players involved, including Rodrigo and Hannigan, were playing a confidence game against Gaddis from the very beginning, so that Valerie and Michael could rightfully take their share of their inheritance.


Criminal is based on an Argentine film, Nine Queens (2000). The story has also been adapted in Hindi as Bluffmaster! (2005) and in Malayalam as Gulumaal: The Escape (2009).


  • John C. Reilly as Richard Gaddis
  • Diego Luna as Rodrigo
  • Maggie Gyllenhaal as Valerie
  • Maeve Quinlan as Laura
  • Peter Mullan as William Hannigan
  • Jonathan Tucker as Michael
  • Ellen Geer as Grandma
  • Malik Yoba as Frank Hill
  • Laura Ceron as Waitress
  • Zitto Kazann as Ochoa
  • Michael Shannon as Gene


Criminal opened in theaters on September 10, 2004, and was later released on VHS and DVD on April 12, 2005.


The film received generally positive reviews from critics and holds a 69% score on Rotten Tomatoes.