Hustlers ★★★

At times, a blast of a film. The premise is a winner, and the strip club and seduction scenes are vivaciously shot. Unfortunately, the performances for the most part leave something to be desired. The obvious exception is Lopez--this is perhaps the first film starring her that understands she works better as a Travolta-esque scene stealer than a leading lady.

The main flaw of this movie, though, is how damned seriously it takes a stripper crime-caper film. (This is the same criticism I had with Magic Mike, an inferior movie.) Wall Street corruption serving as a backdrop to the robberies underlines the central theme enough--no need to patronize the audience by vocalizing it every third scene. Same with Julia Stiles's character--this is a fun, interesting, politically-relevant story as is. We don't need a journalist breaking the flow of the narrative to shout at us "BASED ON A TRUE STORY." And as much as we should celebrate a movie about female friendships, both the initial mentorship of the two leads and the deterioration of their bond feel abrupt and a little inorganic.

Overall, a captivating premise, one great performance, a unique cast, and lively direction make this film worth the watch. We can only hope that Hustlers II: Armed and Fabulous will be just as earnest without being quite so self-important.