The Con Artist / Waking Madison

Anyhoo, “The Con Artist.” Fresh from doing five years in prison, car thief Vince (Rossif Sutherland, son of Donald and half-brother of Kiefer) immediately is pulled into doing more vehicle-snatch jobs for his old boss, Kranski (the aforementioned Donald Sutherland), to pay off debts he owes.

In his spare time, when he’s not brooding or squinting his eyes or walking all cool, Vince pulls spare parts off cars and welds them into (really ugly) works of art. This junk heap inexplicably attracts the attention of a bitchy gallerist (Rebecca Romijn, TV’s “Eastwick”), to whom Roemer’s character works as an assistant, and love sparkles.

But Junior Sutherland is such a repellent person onscreen that he fails to mitigate the extreme predictability — not to mention ridiculous contrivances — of the story. Plus, he mumbles so much, I had to turn on the subtitles. This one’s an argument against Hollywood nepotism.

Things are no better with “Waking Madison,” which proves the theory that no movie can be good if the first word of its two-word title ends in “-ing,” followed by a person’s name. In the very first scene, Roemer looks into the camera and says, “If things don’t change, I’ll kill myself.” After suffering through its first half-hour, I felt the same way.

She plays the titular Madison, a multiple-suicide case with multiple personality disorder who has locked herself in her dingy apartment for 30 days. The timeline is skewed this way and that in this one, as we see her outside of the place all the time, talking to her therapist (the usually reliable Elisabeth Shue, whose name is misspelled in the trailer), having violent sex with strangers, and basically making the movie as bleak as can be.

Writer/director Katherine Brooks certainly conceived “Waking Madison” as a mind trip, but it’s such a mess that it comes off like a message movie with its reels switched. The supposed twist ending is one I guessed in that first act, and a howler at that.

Both movies really ruined my Sunday night, Sarah. Avoid. —Rod Lott

Rod Lott

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