I love a good con-artist movie—emphasis on good. A bad con movie makes me want to hurl a brick at the screen. If you're going to go to the trouble to write a script about an elaborate con, you had darn well better line up the cherries so the slot machine pays the jackpot at the end. This film may not have the perfect house of cards precision you want in a con film, but it's a solid effort.
Nicky (Will Smith) is a con artist. He was born into the life—third-generation, if I remember correctly—and he does OK. One night, he is dining alone when a beautiful woman Jess (Margot Robbie) asks for his help escaping a hands-y guy at the bar. When they end up in her hotel room and her husband bursts through the door with a gun, Nicky spots the con immediately, pointing out the couple's timing errors and missteps. That's when Jess begs Nikki to teach her the ropes.
He brings her to New Orleans for a pre-Super Bowl pickpocket extravaganza; and after a slightly more elaborate con, Nicky cuts Jess loose. He likes Jess, but there's no room for heart in the game. Fast-forward three years to another con where Nicky is setting up an elaborate scam on a shady business man. I'll give you one guess who the guy's girlfriend is. And just like that, Nikki and Jess are neck-deep in a romance, intrigue and a con.
Will Smith is an attractive, charismatic guy. He's likable on-screen and there's no question he can carry a movie. That said, he doesn't have a ton of sexual chemistry with his on-screen partners, and this film is no exception. The movie makes a valiant effort, the twists are clever and surprising, but the palpable lack of heat between Smith and Robbie hurts the story. It's an OK con film, but probably better for a rainy-day rental. It's a 6.