Theatrical release poster
Directed byGregory Jacobs
Screenplay byGregory Jacobs
Sam Lowry
Based onNueve reinas
by Fabián Bielinsky
Produced by
CinematographyChris Menges
Edited byStephen Mirrione
Music byAlex Wurman
Distributed byWarner Independent Pictures
Release date
  • September 10, 2004 (2004-09-10)
Running time
87 minutes
CountriesUnited States

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,[1] 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).



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.


  1. ^ 2004 Mercedes-Benz S 500 [W220] in Criminal, Movie, 2004