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The Con Artists - Movie Poster
Original Title:

South Korea 2014

Crime, Thriller

Kim Hong-seon

Kim Woo-bin
Ko Chang-seok
Lee Hyun-woo
Jo Yoon-hee
Kim Young-cheol
Im Joo-hwan
Jo Dal-hwan
Sin Seung-hwan

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The Con Artists

Story: Ji-hyeok (Kim Woo-bin) is a cocky professional thief whose plans are often very risky but until now always paid off in the end. He almost drives his partner Go-in (Ko Chang-seok) crazy with his plans, though. For his newest coup Ji-hyeok needs an additional helping hand in the shape of a computer specialist which he finds in Jong-bae (Lee Hyun-woo). Moreover, he uses art expert Eun-ha (Jo Yoon-hee) to get access to a safe of a jewelry shop. At the same time gangsterboss Jo (Kim Young-cheol) is looking for a safe-cracker and since the jewelry shop that is robbed by Ji-hyeok is owned by him and because the safe was everything but easy to crack he orders his men to bring Ji-hyeok and his team to him. With the right words and a little bit of threatening Jo eventually makes the men accept his proposal. The robbery surely isn't a small task. There are 150 million dollar waiting for the thieves at the Incheon harbor. However, there isn't really any other place in Korea as tightly secured. As if the planned heist isn't difficult enough, Ji-hyeok is also quite aware that Jo will never let him leave with his share of the money and thus he needs to work out an additional plan...

Review: There are genre works that from the very beginning leave no doubt about what you'll get to see. "The Con Artists" is your typical heist-movie, but this time it's not a bank that is robbed. Other than that almost every genre cliché is utilized. Surprisingly, this is far less of a bother than you would expect. This predictability rather makes it easy to just lean back and let yourself be entertained in the easiest of ways possible. And it works out pretty well, too, since the flick doesn't just lack any surprises - there are just those that you need to expect in this genre - but also doesn't disappoint. The directing is solid, the overall tone pretty lighthearted, but not nearly as wacky as in let's say "The Thieves", and the screenplay obviously makes every effort to tick off all the boxes on the list of what constitutes a good heist-thriller.

The Con Artists - Film Screenshot 11

First of all, there is the introduction of characters, naturally in the shape of an initial heist. Followed by another heist, in order to introduce additional characters and carve out the different skill sets of the invidiuals. Then there is also the villain who wants to take advantage of our "heroes", but in the end it naturally turns out that nothing is as it seems and with the help of some flashbacks we get to see what the real plan actually looked like and that we were given the runaround all the time. What? I gave away too much? Well, let me remind you that I already pointed out that this thriller is woven according to the formula of your typical heist movie, accordingly not even the movie's big surprise is surprising. But as already stated that isn't necessarily just a bad thing. The forthrightness and simplicity of "The Con Artists" will please most viewers.

The Con Artists - Film Screenshot 12

The roles featured in the movie cover your standard clichés. There is the cocky pretty boy, who is also the head of the group and somehow has something conniving about him. But maybe that's just because of actor Kim Woo-bin ("Friends 2") and his mean eyebrows. In any case he remains as interchangeable as the computer specialist, also played by another pretty face for the female audience, Lee Hyun-woo ("Secretly Greatly"). Veteran Ko Chang-seok ("Tabloid Truth") succeeds in gaining more symapathy points, though. Kim Young-cheol ("My Father", "A Bittersweet Life") once again embodies a gangster boss and this with such little effort that his character will most likely be remembered the longest of them all.

At the bottom line, the young cast wasn't really a good choice since the veteran actors often steal the show. Technically, there is nothing to whine about. There is tension at all times. This is achieved through fast edited scenes, in which we see plans being forged, and a timer that is constantly showing up as the plan is put into action, along with a bustling soundtrack which all create the kind of pleasant agitation that is typical for these kind of thrillers. Of course, it's also mandatory for movies like "The Con Artists" that the premise and the whole plan is built on coincidences that barely seem believable. Retrospectively all the cog-wheels seemingly geared into each other seamlessly which is not really plausible but instead will make you point out a few plot holes easily. But as already said, this isn't really that much of a problem if you haven't expected anything else from the beginning.

The Con Artists - Film Screenshot 13

Therefore, it's easy to make out why a movie like "The Con Artists" is bound to be successful. It doesn't experiment with anything new and targets a wide audience of which most will believe to have watched a pretty clever story. A more critical glance naturally makes it possible to disassemble the whole predictable construct of this movie at the very beginning and put it back together without any real effort. Only the details of the revelations may serve as some sort of challenge during your guess work. Despite a technically slick execution it is in fact a shame that director Kim Hong-seon gave up his own handwriting, which at least shone through in this debut work "The Traffickers", in favor of a streamlined genre thriller. Even unneeded additional scenes during the credits along with some cameo appearances are implemented. Accordingly, "The Con Artists" is an entertaining film void of any originality, forgotten a few days after watching, but serving its purpose during its two hours running time.

(Author: Manfred Selzer)
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