Sharper forces you to pay attention-Part 2
"How can you do what you do?" "Practice."
The main cast of Sharper includes Justice Smith, Briana Middleton, Sebastian Stan, and Julianne Moore. This is a 2023 Apple Tv+ movie. We are introduced into the movie with the definition of Sharper as, "One who lives by their wits" which is a hustler, essentially. The trailer asks 'Can you read between the lies?' as we go on the journey of connecting the truth and timelines. We are thrown into the movie and carried on through different perspectives.
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[…]-these are my thoughts while watching the movie
Max's POV continuation
All this happened after Richard tells her he wants her all to himself in the elevator but she pleads with Richard to help prevent Max's arrest. However, she realizes this is all an act as Richard tried to use his connections and money to silently work through this issue. Apparently, Max does this a lot as she said this was one of his confidence games. The detective (Phillip Johnson Richardson)is not a real cop and laughs with Max after being discovered. Embarrassed and fed-up, the mother slaps him and tells him to leave. [I'm happy for her! She's been through a lot and needs peace.] I wasn't sure if this occurred before or after he recruited Sandra but it seemed to be before. Before he leaves, Richard tells him, "Let me give you a piece of advice, Max. If you're gonna steal, steal a lot.". [He's disappointed? That's hilarious. Richard's encouragement was a bit too bold like he's done this before. Further connecting to the less noble ways Tom said he earned his money OR Tom just said that because he's a rich businessman and to be a billionaire, it seems you need to be ruthless]
His mother, Madeline (Julianne Moore) visits him the next day and apologizes for slapping him saying it was too far. However, they kiss before talking about her truly liking Richard or his wealth as a billionaire. They say they're close which showed they're working together. [WHAT? They're working together? A mother and son duo? Wait?! WHAT!!!! NO WAY, ohhhh okay] Max says he might not want to do this anymore which infuses the fact that he has a sense of morality unlike what we saw in Sandra's POV, however, we are still unsure if this was before or after meeting Sandra. She encourages him to continue with the plan while overlooking the feelings he has. [Is she his mentor or partner?] She says she likes him because he gets her what she wants.
The next day, he visits Richard at his office as Madeline told him to. [Ha! Tom's dad is Richard hahaha. I saw it coming but started changing my mind about it. This reminds me of the father reveal in Focus when a Caucasian man, Owens appeared to be Nicky's father(which surprised even Jess, ha!).] Tom comes to see how his dad is doing but they clash and Tom leaves. Richard talks to Max about Tom being weak and unable to run the company. He tells him about wanting Tom to inherit everything despite being disappointed. He lets us know he offered Tom to have an open mind for his birthday gift and he requested a rare book as well as to open a bookstore. He couldn't understand Tom's reasonings. Richard is willing to buy Max's disappearance as he believes he causes his mother anguish and wants the best for her. They negotiate and Max is able to get a year's salary (three-quarters of a million dollars) in cash to vanish from his mother's life. Max happily dances at the pub he found Sandra at with his crew including his girl and the fake cop revealed to be called Tipsy. [I like a good dance number! They look so happy haha. So he stole from Richard, twice? Haha, with Sandra and without.]
They cheat Tipsy out of his money and say they want to quit before saying they're going on a vacation. Tipsy says, "This is becoming a habit with y'all two. I'm starting to feel like I'm the mark." which they deny. After he leaves, they plan what to do with Richard and what to do together. She asks him if he loves her and he says, "Unfortunately". However, Madeline decides to leave Max for a long life with Richard. She said Richard loves her, he wants to marry her and she doesn't want to be in bars doing short cons. She wants longevity. Madeline said Richard has a lot to think about including the emotional wreck of a son [ouch!] and he will not be asking questions. She said she was tired of playing the mom role and it was boring. Before the police knock at Max's hotel door, Madeline says she really would stay with Richard. He couldn't believe it was happening and was disappointed she used him. He was shocked and heartbroken but able to escape the police. This is often what happens, someone cheats the other in some way. Similar to how they cheated Tipsy of his money, he was almost cheated of his freedom while she lives in bliss. This moment explains his need to trust Sandra in the beginning.
At this point, we flash forward to see that Richard has died now. Madeline got most of the things including the estate and assets. Tom got to handle the foundation with Madeline as a trustee enabling her to take over in case of any issues. She consoles Tom and says she's there if he needs anything but makes sure she mentions that she has to sell the apartment because she can't do it.[She is so fake ha! wow, she made sure she got that out.] Richard's apartment is where Tom lives too apparently but she tries to portray that she's so affected by her presence in it that she needs to move. She is extremely giddy about her winnings. She goes shopping, steals and fraternizes with the upper echelon[Already living her best life, ha. She stole like the cameras won't catch her but nothing concerning that happened, so I guess.].
However, this bliss is cut short as she notices Tom called some guys that helped his dad out when necessary. He wanted to find Sandra [full circle now, it's connecting.] with the help of Pat Braddock (Darren Goldstein), Mr. Mosely(Brian Rojas) and Mr. McCabe(Richard Busser). The shot of her looking at Tom seeing the men off was really good. It told of her fear, intimidation and nervousness that was still shelled. Madeline decides to stage take-out for Tom to appear as if she cooked it. She did this after looking at a picture of his dead mother for some form of connection and intel on the search. [Poor Tom, man] She takes a different approach to try to discourage him from finding Sandra as it could lead back to her. She proved that Tom was heartbroken and just wants to see her again instead of getting actual answers to the reason she stole from him.
He finally said he'll tell them to call it off. Although, after some time he gets a call during their apartment viewings that they found her with a last lead. He insists to talk to her alone which he gets to do despite Madeline's attempt to speak with her first. Tom learns that the person Sandra worked for (Max) had a personal vendetta against him and knew all about him. Tom insists she stays with them until she recovers. Madeline instantly objects and tries to get Braddock to discourage him but he says there could be scheduled security by Sandra's room door to monitor her. Max cheated Sandra and didn't leave her with anything, so Tom wanted her to stay there. [Hmm, is this a con against Madeline?] Finally, Madeline goes to talk to Sandra. Sandra says she knows everything about her, does not want money and just wants to confess. She says this after Madeline asks how much she wants. Sandra gives her an ultimatum to find Max so he can see what he did to her after he abandoned her and she took drugs OR she tells everyone who Madeline really is. Full of fear, Madeline calls Max repeatedly. Sandra is going through severe withdrawals and Madeline had pure fear in her eyes after she saw her.
Max eventually reaches out and Madeline says she wants him back to fix things. The next day Sandra and Madeline head to see him with hopes that when Sandra sees him she's going to leave her life. Sandra is concerned by her coldness and asks how Madeline does what she does. Madeline says, "practice". [Oh, Max ACTUALLY showed up…hmm interesting.] Max is at an open space, the usual spot for a shakedown or exchange. Sandra is able to vent her anger and frustration which Madeline is annoyed by. Sandra wants him to apologize but Madeline said he won't because he's not sorry. Madeline asks what could be done to make it right by her but she does not respond. Sandra asks Max if he felt anything for her and he says he felt nothing before two black cars pull up. [Hmmm.] Out of the cars comes Braddock, Mr. Mosely, Mr. McCabe and Tom. Braddock had a hunch she used both of them to get Tom's inheritance from him. In Tom's presence, she is asked to give it back but she said if it was his, he would have it but it's her money. This is linked to the, "You can't cheat an honest man, right? That's why we never feel sorry for the mark." that Mark said in Sandra's Pov. If Richard was more lenient and honest when dealing with his son (and probably his business), it would have been rightfully given to Tom. Tom is upset (rightfully, so) that everyone is just all about the money and takes Braddock's gun to shoot Sandra. He reconsiders and aims it at Madeline because her arrival ruined his life and his father's. She said she kept him alive which could be true so he falls more in love with her, enough to give her literally everything as he's of sound mind.
Tom shoots but it doesn't hit anyone. Although, he gets shot while the gun is in Madeline's hand. Everyone is stunned that he's dead[Wow, RIP Tom. As bad as it seems, at least he won't be unhappy.]. Madeline starts apologizing saying she'll make amends and give the money back. However, Max supports her by saying she didn't actually shoot him and Tom shot himself. [Wow, Max really loves Madeline huh? That's why he said 'unfortunately' after she asked if he loves her. This is usually the downfall of people living this lifestyle which is why they prefer to be single and unattached. They can be riskier and have no trail to them.] Tom's blood is spreading as she begs more to avoid jail time. We get a montage of how Madeline called her lawyer, David (David Pittu)and signed the documents. The signage allowed all the inheritance to be transferred to the Richard Hobbes foundation that Tom heads which could be used for service bills and more. [The lawyer was quite nice trying to see if she was okay or under duress and offered help.] During this, they head out in the cars after Braddock closed the door of the car saying, "Make it look like a robbery" for Tom's death. I realized something was off in this scene which reconnects us to the beginning. It was fake! The focus is on the Rolex watch which in the beginning was a fake and told of Max's inauthentic character. This focus showed there was something fake happening or something fake about his character.
Max, Madeline and Sandra were all put on the next flight out to Oklahoma after being escorted to the airport. They sat in the same row. Max is shocked Madeline gave up so much money but she explains that she's not really losing billions of dollars because since Tom's dead and she's a trustee of the foundation, she still had the money. Sandra shed a tear for Tom and is disgusted that they're still focused on money. [The thing is it's not really about the money but the thrill because even when Madeline had money, she still stole a ring.] They are annoyed she's trying to talk about Tom still. She goes to vomit from disgust at their involvement in his death at a restroom in front of the plane allowing her to leave. This is not realized yet as the plane starts moving. Max and Madeline are given water to drink and while trying to remove the blood from her sleeve she realizes it's not blood. She is immediately in defence mode thinking Max did this to her but realized Sandra has not come back. She goes to the restroom to confront her but sees she's not there[5th person angrily banging on the door]. Max seems weaker than before to her and she questions the possible effect Sandra had on him to be more moral.
Sandy's pov[That's who she really is?]. We see her escape the plane with all the memories flooding in. We also get to fill in the gaps about how everything was planned. [Oh, the Jason brother was real? Interesting! Or it was just Tipsy pretending because they may have shown the brother at some point if he existed. We see her talking to someone and see Max in the background. (great shot)] After she stole from Tom, with no gain, she started waitressing. She confessed to Tom after seeing his father's death in the newspaper and got info from Tipsy. It is revealed that Braddock is the Goldie person that Tipsy wanted Max and Madleline to meet after they were done with Richard. Tipsy had said, "He comes highly recommended and he's looking for a score." which he gets working with Tom and Sandra. They planned everything to trick them, and get the money back which worked. We see that they staged the shoot-out and practiced it as they recalled Sandra and Madeline's conversation, "How can you do what you do?", "Practice.". After all their witty cons, Max and Madeline were outsmarted and lost their winnings. They all retreat to Tom's bookstore for their cuts and leave Tom and Sandra behind to talk. He thanks her for getting everything back despite helping to take it. She asks him to use his plentiful bank account for good before asking him out to the same Japanese restaurant they went out to before. He accepts[Shocking? No, but Yay for Tom. Hopefully, things go well for him]. They head out and the movie ends.
There were no consequences to Max and Madeline (except poverty) because they were not real cops. We don't know if Madeline and Max are their real names because they've been doing cons together and call their other accomplice 'Tipsy' which is a more obvious code name. Richard, like everyone else, had to use his wits to get out of situations as well. So, everyone hustles in different ways. I enjoyed this movie. The actors, the plot, the music, and the cinematography were great. The movie is puzzling and you have to put the pieces together because they're not in order for a bit but that also made it enjoyable.
I have written about the first parts of the movie in my Sharper forces you to pay attention-Part 1 article.
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