Starring: Julianne Moore, Sebastian Stan, Justice Smith, Briana Middleton, and John Lithgow
Director: Benjamin Caron
Here's the thing... plotwise, Sharper is great. The story is interesting, filled with exciting twists, while every member of the cast is engaging in their roles (even Justice Smith, who I'm often critical of). Unfortunately, with the way the film has been chopped up to incorporate its non-linear storytelling, all those exciting twists and turns have far less gravity to them than they should, making the film almost completely devoid of suspense. It's a baffling editorial decision that works against the film by taking away much of the finale’s weight. Still, it’s a worthwhile watch, but this could have been great. Such a missed opportunity.
Sharper is a stylish and seductive con artist thriller filled with countless plot twists. Just when you think you know where the story is going, the film takes another turn to keep you on the edge of your seat. The shifting character perspectives keep things intriguing and engaging, but the film fumbles it all in the third act. Still, it’s an entertaining experience that delivers solid performances from Julianne Moore, Sebastian Stan, and Briana Middleton, making it sharp enough to deserve being watched.
Sharper is a good psychological thriller that will keep the audience invested and engaged throughout. The interweaving stories dovetail into a third act that doesn’t fully hold up, but the twists and reveals make for a mostly satisfying conclusion nonetheless. Films about multi-layered con jobs and confidence scams can oftentimes come off as convoluted, but Sharper keeps its focus on its small central cast, maintaining a clear narrative that’s simple to follow. Benjamin Caron’s direction, solid performances from everyone (especially Briana Middleton), and a well-crafted production design make for a great weeknight movie that almost anyone can enjoy.
Following some scam artists and their targets, Sharper weaves multiple threads into an intriguing thriller. Each new chapter offers another piece of the story, allowing us to better understand the motives behind the cons. That being said, I feel Sebastian Stan’s character could have been further developed, as he is mostly relegated to an interesting, but ultimately shallow, sociopath. Nevertheless, Sharper continuously throws twists at you, keeping your eyes glued to the screen and your mind second guessing every act made by the characters. It’s a fun thriller with a few flaws that the charismatic cast will help you overlook.
As you know, I love a good heist, but I equally love Heist’s cousin, The Grift. And while Sharper has an appealing cast and a few stylistic choices that evoke the noirs of Brian De Palma, the movie is undermined by the fractured, non-linear story structure. In telling the story through character-driven chapters, the narrative momentum is virtually non-existent, which leaves the plentiful twists landing with more of a flat “oh, I see” than an emphatic “oh, wow!” Still, it’s not terrible by any means, and fans of con man movies should find it enjoyable enough, even if it doesn’t leave a lasting impression.
Sharper is… fine. It has lots of ideas to play with, and I think director Benjamin Caron plays with those ideas in a sleek and, at times, fun way. The cast all do a great job too, especially Julianne Moore and Briana Middleton. But something about its delivery didn’t really engage me as much as it should have. I don’t think the pacing works for the plot’s high ambitions, and the ending didn’t stick the landing for me either. Check it out if you want, it might work for you, but for me, it didn’t resonate the way it should have.
Sharper’s script would be clever if it weren’t so convoluted, but regardless of its shortcomings when it comes to clarity or characters, it can be fun watching these performers scam each other as we journey into their respective pasts. There is a point where the plot switches back to present day that is so unremarked upon that the audience doesn’t even register the turn, but eventually we catch up. Unfortunately, the repetitiveness of the first two acts can’t be made up for by a relatively dull third act, so ultimately, the film can’t be more than just fine.