Nicky knows his stuff.
It’s not the sort of stuff you’d teach your kids or talk about in mixed company. But it’s a certain well-practiced knowledge that only comes after a great deal of hard work and only, really, to a choice few.
It’s like that light-footed grace some athletes have on the sports field. Or the fleetness of mind that only a very few deep thinkers can muster. In Nicky’s case, though, his skill set is something altogether different. He’s a seasoned con man who can easily convince you of pretty much anything he wants you to believe.
He can put you at ease while he steals away your fortune and leaves you thinking it was all for the best. He can kiss your wife, pick your pocket and kick your dog while letting you believe you won the lottery that day. And no matter how things might go sideways, Nicky plays out his part with such a cold, calculated efficiency that he always lands on his feet with his pockets full.
He’s been able to do all that by following one simple rule: “There’s no room for heart in this game.” You can’t care about the mark. You can’t care about who gets hurt. You can’t even care about your partners in the con.
Now there’s a problem for Nicky, though. He’s met someone. Someone special he can’t get out of his head. Her name is Jess, and she’s hit him with an emotional broadside that’s left him reeling. And caring. She’s a thief too. And she’s getting pretty good at it under Nicky’s tutelage. In fact, they fit together in every way better than any two people he’s ever known.
But that shouldn’t matter. It can’t matter. He needs to walk away. He can’t keep caring.
If you let heart get between you and a job, you can lose your focus. If Nicky knows nothing else, he knows that this business is all about focus. And he’s losing it.
This film is “focused” on people who steal for a living. So there’s not a lot to praise in their actions except to say that among thieves there is a certain standard of honor upheld here. And the film does suggest that love can have a softening, positive effect even on the most heartless. Thus, Nicky warns Jess to get out of crime before it hurts her.
A fellow thief suggests that he should “take it up with God” when Nicky asks him a rhetorical question.
A number of women, in clubs and at poolside, wear outfits that expose curves and cleavage. Jess is the camera’s favorite subject when it comes to ogling. We see her naked and topless in a short yet quite sensual sex scene with Nicky. And we see her in various stages of undress—from a skimpy bikini and lacey undies to formfitting dresses. A man has sex with a prostitute, and the camera examines her lower back and bare backside while highlighting a “tramp stamp” she wears. A comrade in crime “accidentally” shows Jess a picture of his penis on his phone (out of the frame). Jokes are interjected about straight and gay sex.
A hired thug purposely rams his SUV into Nicky’s car, leaving Nicky and Jess bruised, slashed and bleeding. Nicky and Jess both get punched in the face. A man is shot in the chest and appears to be bleeding out. A suction device is plunged into someone’s chest to extract the blood from his lungs. His wounds are then wrapped in duct tape until he can be transported to the hospital.
Crude or Profane Language
Over 50 f-words and 20 s-words join multiple uses of “h—,” “a–” and “d–n.” God’s and Jesus’ names are abused a dozen or more times, with God’s twice getting linked with “d–n.” Crude and/or obscene references are made to male and female body parts.
Drug and Alcohol Content
Wine and hard liquor flow freely during several dinner scenes and parties, and while a group sits in an outdoor café. Crooks toast their success with glasses of champagne. A wealthy owner downs shots and guzzles champagne while watching his race car run the track. We see several people smoking, both cigarettes and a cigar. Jess jokes about having been given a “roofie.”
Early on, Nicky tells the eager-to-learn Jess that if you redirect a mark’s focus, you can pretty much do whatever you want. Then he proceeds to demonstrate his point while he banters, redirecting her focus repeatedly so he can lightly lift her possessions.
By film’s end we in the audience come to see that the movie itself has been playing that same sleight of hand game on us—redirecting our gaze with likeable characters, an easy pace and pleasant settings, then surprising us several times with the story-con it’s concocted.
It is, quite frankly, an interesting experience.
It isn’t, however, always a good one.
For like a grimy pickpocket’s hand, the movie leaves something behind as it executes its cinematic feint. We’re left with some dirty mental fingerprints made up of an abundance of foul language and crude dialogue mixed with some sexy, fleshy visuals. And we’re left with the unfocused idea that well-executed lies, thefts and cons are something quite special and beautiful to behold.