Get Swindled by Hustlers

The Stream: An uneven final act feels both rushed and incomplete.
The Big Screen: Jennifer Lopez. Jennifer Lopez. Jennifer Lopez.
The Final Bill: A superstar performance by Jennifer Lopez, an awesome soundtrack and deserved comeuppance for the Wall Street-types makes for an energetic time at the movies.

-Trip Fontaine

Director: Lorene Scafaria
Rating: R
Runtime: 1 hour 50 minutes
Genre: Crime, Drama, Comedy

The Great Recession hit the American economy like a ton of bricks. Banks! Foreclosures! Retirement Accounts! Strippers! Yes, multiple facets of the American society felt the pinch of the economic bust of the late 2000s and early 2010s. The dazzling crime drama, Hustlers, directed by Lorene Scafaria, details how when the money dried up on Wall Street the ladies on the main stage at Moves had to make some other moves *wink* to keep things afloat. Hustlers is based on true events reported from a New York magazine article. As outrageous as the tale all seems, the fact that there is some basis of truth makes it even more engrossing.

Constance Wu plays the neophyte dancer, Destiny, who just wants to be successful, powerful and as confidant a dancer as the veteran, Ramona, portrayed by an awe-inspiring Jennifer Lopez. Ramona is Destiny’s mentor in the good times and, eventually, partner in crime in the bad. The fact that these women hustle some guys looking for a good time is no secret, but the how of the scheme is interesting. Plus, Ramona’s justification for their actions is thought-provoking as well. Do these slime balls deserve to get swindled like they swindled the American people!?! Do two wrongs make a right? Exotic dancing Robin Hoods.

Well, Jennifer Lopez is the reason to see Hustlers on the big screen. I don’t want to oversell her performance, but it is the best things she’s ever done. Jennifer Lopez was a bona fide superstar before Hustlers. Her performance in Hustlers only underScores *wink* what people have known for the last two decades, even if it hasn’t been evidenced in some of her previous films. The determination that Ramona has is palpable through Lopez’s every move in the heights of her dancing and the desperation of her crimes.

I’ll also say that Wu is very good as the conduit for the audience. Keke Palmer has some great scenes as one of the fellow Hustlers. And, Cardi B has a hilarious cameo. The remainder of the cast is uniformly good, if not a bit overshadowed by Lopez’s strong presence. And, there’s an awesome soundtrack from the late 2000s that is full of earworms.

While the ending feels a bit rushed, the movie does get to what happens and the how even if that’s a bit of an after-thought. There’s an interview framing device that is kind of distracting. All you will really want is the film to get back to the club and back to whatever Ramona is doing.

S2S Rating Scale

Ultimately, Hustlers is an entertaining time, with a great performance by Lopez, and a thoughtful moral tale about money, desperation and the limits of friendship. It really feels like an easy theater going experience for all that will fulfill your expectations. Hustlers is worthy of your movie theater dollars, and if you can’t make it before it leaves theaters, definitely catch it as soon as you can on your streaming device. In fact, Lopez’s first appearance on screen is worth repeat viewing.