Wilson plays Penny Rust, a girl who’s probably a runaway. We meet her when some beardy and out of shape right-wing dude is awaiting some chick he met online, staring at her zoomed-in boobs. Wilson shows up saying she’s her chaperone, making sure he’s legitimate. She also mentions how she right now needs a breast enlarging job, with the promise of the best making out in the world if he can give her 500 dollars. Yeah. Then there’s Josephine Chesterfield (Anne Hathaway in her White-Queen Alice-in-Wonderland voice) who we see playing a dumb billionaire’s wife conning a billionaire man’s 500-million dollar necklace. Rust and Chesterfield cross paths and Rust really wants to learn how to hit it big, and Chesterfield gives some pointers, or is blackmailed into doing so, or else Rust would reveal her underground riches. She quizzes what men want most in the world, and it’s not to have sex, but to be heroes. All ends up going well with Rust and Chesterfield working some big scams against some rich but shallow people until Chesterfield’s greediness turns the two of them against each other.
These days, there’s a real black market of scammers out there. Criminals now with the help of inside men and social media, have the ability to magnificently trick and con pretty much everyone, with their acting, imagination and psychological skills. And when I realized this movie was going to be put in their shoes, I wanted the film to add layers to them, especially Wilson’s character. I have an interest in criminals. Like Donald Sutherland said in my favourite movie ever, The Italian Job: “There are two kinds of thieves in this world. Those who steal to enrich their lives, and those who steal to define their lives.” I’m not saying every heist movie in the world has to dive into a personal reason for their criminal activity, but, I mean, why shouldn’t they? Some criminals do what they do for fun, others because they have no choice, and others because they think they have no choice. And sometimes I feel the people in the last two categories are penalized and disregarded too often. Considering how much news there is of people getting scammed out of big bucks, I was interested to see how the film would depict these tricky people. But they didn’t do anything resourceful and just went for the irresponsible approach, leaving a sour taste in my mouth you’ll understand if you see the film.
The film is about two thirds of the way through when it picks a story thread it decides to stay with till the end, and it’s a shame how many more main plot possibilities were laid out with us before, making the decision feel pale. Before that, the scams we see them pulling off are actually clever, and I was thinking of a recommendation. My criticisms I would’ve given was that it occasionally drags, and I couldn’t figure out why until I realized...the two main characters are kind of...putzes and I didn’t care what happened to them. Then it ended up lingering on this plot, and I cared even less, though I was interested who would come out on top. Still, it dived into feeling too unrealistic, then I realized the screenwriters kind of trapped themselves, diving into a story so iffy that any choice it made to end the film wasn’t going to sit well with me, and the choice it made actually made me cringe like I sniffed limburger cheese.
The Italian Job from 2003 has been my favourite film for a very long time now, and that movie was iffy too, being about a gang of thieves stealing back millions of dollars they carelessly stole originally. But it still worked because their motivation was valid and they seemed like people who wouldn’t dismiss someone who needed help. Not all antiheroes have to be likable in the long run, but by the end, there’s no one we’re concerned about in the slightest and we actually resent them being happy with themselves. There was so much potential to talk about why people rip others off...
Hathaway and Wilson both give it their all, preventing The Hustle from being a train wreck, but it’s more of a car wreck, the sloppy and irresponsible shoes the writers put them in leaving their efforts to waste. The movie aims for a feminist approach, and I'm always up for some women empowerment. I believe girls in general are tougher than boys. But there's more to it than saying, "Ha ha, you think we're fools, we're onto ya, got ya!"