There is a certain inevitable pleasure in a scam movie because you have to work out what the scam is – whether in Ocean's 11, The Sting, Nine Queens or even House Of Games. You know you can't trust what you see, and you can't believe what you're told, but you're still trying to second guess the outcome. This is a surprisingly enjoyable entry to the scam genre.
Nicky (Will Smith) is a past master of the con, the scam and the confidence trick. He can outwit or fool anyone alive, using the well known (but still infallible) method of distracting the victim, while robbing them.
Jess (Margot Robbie) is a younger con artist who wants to learn from, work with (and probably seduce) the Master. She seems to have a natural gift for the racket (and let's not forget, this is criminal behaviour dressed up as being cool), and the two of them are soon hustling their way through New Orleans.
The first half of the film ends with an unexpected separation before Part 2 takes us to Buenos Aires for some even more complex and improbable action. The core of the double (not to mention triple, quadruple and so on) bluff is the relationship between Nicky and Jess. Is either of them actually attracted to the other, or is it all just bluff and smoke screen? I'm not saying, and the film will leave you guessing (then reconsidering your guess).
Let's be clear, this is not The Grifters. There is no seediness or any examination of the psychopathology of people who steal and lie for a living. But it's fun, it's slick, and Robbie and Smith work well together. It's been a very long time since Will Smith was halfway bearable, and he seems to have grown up a bit (as he should do, aged 46). He has more substance as well as less smugness, and although it is Robbie who provides the best performance, he just about keeps pace with her.
In this just-after-the-Oscars season of worthy films (or drivel – yes, that's you Fifty Shades of Grey), you could do a lot worse for an undemanding and entertaining evening out.