Someone (Clovis Cornillac) dressed as a workman walks into a business in Paris and sets about looking as if he's supposed to be there, going up to an office and telling the secretaries that he is to carry out maintenance in their boss's office, which they take as the truth seeing as he is dressed for the part in overalls. But once he's alone, he peels them off to reveal a suit underneath, and begins a case of fraud, pretending this is his office when Lardier (Christian Hecq) enters with a deal for him - and unfortunately three bullets as well...
Comedian Jean Dujardin found himself an international star once silent movie The Artist began picking up nominations and awards around the world, but he had already been making a name for himself in movie buff circles with two excellent comic performances in his O.S.S. 117 spy spoofs, not to mention a starring role as French comic book icon Lucky Luke, but with Ca$h he was out to prove he could play it straight as well. There remained a lightness of touch to his performance here which gave away his origins in more humorous material, but until the ending which turned this whole plot on its head you could be forgiven for thinking this was Dujardin getting serious.
The star played the brother of the man we saw murdered in the pre-credits sequence, so we know somehow Cash, as he is nicknamed by his peers, will be wishing to avenge the death in some way, though as we're kept in the dark about precisely how, and for that matter precisely who was behind the deed, the intention of writer and director Éric Besnard was evidently to keep the audience not only guessing, but on their toes into the bargain. The influences here were pretty blatantly the contemporary Ocean's Eleven franchise with the heist motive to much of what we saw, but actually what this most resembled was a feature version of the BBC TV series Hustle.
Except in French, of course, but the same mix of danger and suspense leavened with an easygoing, breezy quality was on display and to an extent worked out very nicely. Cash finds himself trying to pull the wool over the eyes of a gang of would-be counterfeiters, a situation which quickly takes a turn for the worst leading him to be chased for the rest of the movie by that lot because of the scam they've pulled on them. But he and his associates are not going unnoticed by the authorities as they are under surveillance by Julia Molina (Valeria Golino), a secret service agent who is seeking to follow them in the hope that they will lead them to bigger fish on the international fraud scene.
Bigger fish like wealthy conman Maxime (Jean Reno) who Cash is trying to get to know better through his daughter Garance (Alice Taglioni), a young woman he is romancing to the point of asking her to marry him. All the while Julia watches until she has to show her hand, allowing Cash a chance to escape from some thugs and becoming something of a morally ambiguous character when she joins up with his associates as the promise of a priceless hoard of diamonds looks too tempting to pass up. For much of this the pleasure came from actors - Dujardin especially - acting suave and sophisticated, with a dash of violence to show that there are some high stakes being played for here. But that ending asks rather too much of the audience, in that it is revealed that we have been fooled as well, a development which kind of makes sense, but then again would involve a superhuman amount of organisation. Nevertheless, it is classy fun while it lasts. Music by Jean-Michel Bernard.