Someone once said that crime doesn’t pay, but if you watch enough movies about it, you know it does, even if only for a while. We have had movies about gangsters, bank robbers, and con men, but we have never had one about a group of ex strippers who are putting the work in on their clientele. Sometimes a story will put you to sleep, but others just jump off the page, something Jessica Pressler”s New York Magazine story did about a group of women who turned the tables on the men who thought they were the ones running things.
Destiny (Constance Wu) looks like the mom at the PTA meetings who makes the best cupcakes, but she is not that one. Instead she is a stripper, it’s 2007 and she is starting at a club in the city. She does ok, but things change when she meets Ramona (Jennifer Lopez), who is a star that Destiney is drawn to immediately. Soon she is stuck in Ramona’s orbit as she teaches Destiny how to work the room and the men who come to visit them. That all changes when the bottom falls out of Wall Street and with it all the money that gave them the lives they were living.
A few years later Destiny has a kid and just out of a bad relationship when she runs into Ramona again, this time she has a new game she is running. This one involves a couple other girls in Annabelle (Lilli Reinhart) and Mercedes (Keke Palmer) and a little help from a mixture of drugs to make it complete. Destiny soon joins the group and together the four of them clean up, taking men for large amounts all while having the time of their lives. Good times don’t last and even the best hustlers at some point get caught.
Hustlers is one of those “based on real event” movies and one that makes crime look like it is one hell of a good time, that is until the montage of the good times comes to an end. Lorene Scafaria wrote the script from Pressler’s article and also directed the film with a lot of style. Looks though are not the only thing that this one has going for it. You can add a killer soundtrack as well as a performance by Lopez that reminds you that when she wants to, she can be quite good. That is not to say she can’t act, it is more of a judgement on her acting choices more than anything else. Joining her is Wu, who took a hard right turn from her last major role, and like Lopez delivers it. Hustlers at times feels like it draws from the Scorsese crime films of the nineties but pulls it off well, even adding some neat little tricks along the way. With everything it brings, Hustlers feels like a good night out on the town with friends that leaves you with moments you will want to talk about.