This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Ram Solo’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
All in all, I enjoyed this as a fun watch. Not flawless, but well-paced and engaging.
1. With protagonists that are conniving people who do terrible things, getting the audience on their side is a tough sell, but I feel they did it well here, using two particular tools.
a) If the evil heroine is bad, the villain is worse.
b) We get a relatable primal emotion we can latch on to. The belief system she follows is the opening line of the film. There are only two options, be a predator or be prey. She is not willing to be the prey.
2. The structure is symmetrical. Not only the first and final scenes but even the first and final acts use setups and pay-offs that show the growth of the characters. It's rewarding the investment of time in the first act with an obvious conclusion that plays out in an unexpected way.
In the pre-climax, there is a sense of Bad guys get stupid contrivance, with both the con girls getting away for certain death because of incompetent henchmen, but I guess that's true of most workplaces. A bit too real in what should probably be more reel.
SPOILER and STUDY:
A court-appointed legal guardian entraps people in her care facility and defrauds them to fill her own pockets until she targets an elusive old woman who has the protection of a powerful crime lord. When the threats become real, she must make a choice between giving up her ways or fighting to the end, before her enterprise and loved ones are eliminated.
STC GENRE: I.MITH.DOMESTIC
MICE QUOTIENT: EVENT
Basic Plot Beats (STC-Format):
Maria wins a case against a son who was unable to see his mother.
Her case is on the basis that the son was unable to care for her.
She cares. A Lot. *wink*
To decide whether you are a predator or prey.
We see Maria's con and organisation, how wealthy old marks are chosen.
How a doctor signs off on them to need her care, with a bribe.
How once in her care, everything is liquidised for her gain.
They pick up a woman with no living relatives. -- A real cash cow!
Will this be as smooth as all the others?
Break into 2:
Of course not. A man comes to visit her and finds her missing.
Maria's partner in crime is her girlfriend Fran. Somebody she 'actually' cares for.
Fun & Games:
The man works for a notorious crime lord, who's clearly not pleased.
The crime lord sends in a lawyer to negotiate his mother's release.
She doesn't bite. Asks for a huge amount that the lawyer declines.
The matter goes to court. She wins. This is her world. Queen!
Maria discovers a bunch of diamonds in the old woman's safety deposit box.
She shares this information with Fran. They realise this old woman is more than she seems.
Bad Guys Close In:
The crime lord then takes a more direct illegal approach.
His cronies are on the verge of getting her out but fail.
The crime lord has the bribed doctor murdered.
Maria sends the old woman to a proper mental hospital.
Maria and Fran decide to go into hiding for a while.
Fran has forgotten their passports. Goes back.
Maria is kidnapped and drugged, but won't release
All is Lost:
Maria is dispatched to inevitable death, unconscious in a moving car.
Dark Night of the Soul:
Maria barely survives, waking up in the nick of time and escaping.
She finds her way back to Fran who is beaten down to a pulp too.
They have certainly found themselves in quite a pickle.
Break into Act 3:
So, now what? Fight or Flight? FIGHT!
Maria tracks, kidnaps, and drugs the Crime Lord. Tit for Tat.
Leaves him naked on a road to be found by strangers as a John Doe.
When he wakes in a hospital, she towers over him -- his legal guardian!
She makes him an offer. A large lump sum of dollars for freedom.
He makes her a counter-offer. A business partnership.
Franchise her care homes! She accepts.
Maria thrives as a predator, not prey.
The son from the opening shoots her dead.