Modern day Robin Hood

By Aaron Reynolds

The Surveyor

3.5 out of 5 Stars

When I was growing up one of my personal favorite movies was “Robin Hood,” starring Kevin Costner and Morgan Freeman. As a youngster I liked everything about the film, from the grand adventure in Nottingham to taking from the rich and giving to the poor.

Even though it was stealing, there was something noble and heroic about a group of blue-collar men trying to give back to their own people and live a life society had attempted to suppress from them.

Though one could argue there is no correlation between “Robin Hood” and the new film “Hustlers” – starring Jennifer Lopez as a stripper – there are actually several parallels.

“Hustlers” tells the story of Destiny (played by Constance Wu), a single mother who, like many who fall into the adult entertainment industry, needs the money to support her family. After struggling at first to find her way, she befriends Ramona (Jennifer Lopez), a seasoned dancer who takes Destiny under her wing.

As the story plays along, we find out the majority of Destiny and Ramona’s clients are elitist Wall Street guys who don’t think twice about cheating on their wives and blowing $20,000 in the club on any given night. It is where Ramona dreams up a new con to get her, and a group of girls, filthy rich.

“Hurt people, hurt people,” Destiny summarizes halfway through the movie while speaking to a journalist (Julia Stiles) about the incidents that led to the embezzlement. It serves as the general overall theme for a movie that seems shallow at its core yet actually delivers a heartfelt message about friendship, empowerment, greed and survival.

Though society tells us to judge and snub our noses down on exotic dancers and others who make a living in the adult entertainment industry, we are reminded these people are just that, people. Whether you agree or disagree morally with what they did, “Hustlers” is surprisingly deep and much more than just eye candy.

Yes, Jennifer Lopez may be the fittest 50-year-old woman in the history of Hollywood. She defies the laws of aging and looks as great as ever. However, her role is surprisingly moving as she arguably puts on the greatest performance of her acting career. J-Lo, who has long been known as a good singer and dancer, but not so much as an actor, proves some things do get better with age.

She works with a solid screenplay that does lull a little over the second half yet manages to introduce an interesting story, and one about which you rarely hear. We are in the era of female empowerment, and “Hustlers” proves women of all occupations deserve to be treated as human beings.

“Hustlers” receives noteworthy performances from its lead cast (Lopez and Wu), as well as some strong supporting roles from Julia Stiles and Keke Palmer, as well as cameos from Cardi B and Usher. Though it is only appropriate for mature audiences, “Hustlers” is more than just fluff. I applaud Hollywood for tackling a risqué yet important subject, as well as delivering a solid message through its story.

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