Benjamin Caron’s “Sharper,” which is written by Brian Gatewood and Alessandro Tanaka, initially follows a bookstore employee, Tom (Justice Smith), as he falls in love with one of his customers, Sandra (Briana Middleton). Their love affair blossoms smoothly until Sandra reveals that his estranged brother, Jason, needs money to pay off some dangerous debt collectors. Tom obliges as he reveals the truth that he isn’t an employee at the bookshop. He actually owns the shop, and he has a lot of money because he’s the son of billionaire Richard (John Lithgow). Sandra appears hesitant, but after assessing the situation, she agrees to take the money and repay it as quickly or slowly as she humanely can. However, instead of doing that, she runs off with a total of $350,000. That’s when Madeline (Julianne Moore) and Max (Sebastian Stan) come into the picture, and it’s revealed that they are the masterminds behind Tom’s downfall and more.
Major Spoilers Ahead
Why Did Madeline And Max Con Rich People In ‘Sharper’?
It was clear that Madeline was the one who taught Max to become a con artist. And although it was not explicitly stated why they were doing what they were doing, it seemed like they believed that there were too many dishonest, rich men in this world and they needed to be robbed. That made it apparent that Madeline and Max came from poverty and thought they were doing something righteous by taking excess wealth away from the hands of the affluent. So, there was no confusion about why they made Richard their primary target. But they weren’t in it for the long game. All they wanted to do was portray Max as Madeline’s spoilt child, convince Richard to give Max the money he needs to stay away from the distraught Madeline, and then run away with that money. However, at the very last moment, Madeline decided to stay with Richard until his death and sent Max on the run for stealing Richard’s money, thereby making her the sole owner of Richard’s estate.
The only thing keeping Madeline from having sole ownership was Tom because he was Richard’s one and only son. So, in order to get him out of the will, Madeline planned to capitalize on his mental instability and force Richard to believe that he wasn’t ready to take care of the estate and other businesses. She teamed up with Max again, who trained Sandra how to con people, and the three of them essentially punched a hole in Tom’s heart. The financial loss and Tom’s erratic behavior influenced Richard to allocate the majority of his wealth to Madeline and let Tom have access only to the charity fund. Therefore, it was a win-win for both Madeline and Max because the former got her hands on billions of dollars while the latter had $350,000 with him. Yes, Max didn’t share it with Sandra. However, the conning duo broke the one rule they had, which was to never hurt an honest person. Despite being privileged, Tom wasn’t a fiend and hurting him set the downfall of Max and Madeline into motion.
Did Madeline and Max Manage To Get Away With Everything At The End Of ‘Sharper’?
Tom and Sandra made it seem that his personal detective team had found her in a bad state and brought her to him so that he could get closure about her betrayal. But Madeline instantly recognized that as a threat to her identity because Sandra knew who she really was and what her connection to Max was. That’s why she asked what she could give to Sandra in exchange for full discretion regarding Madeline’s identity. And all Sandra wanted was to meet with Max again so that she could get closure about why he betrayed her after sending her to con Tom. Since Madeline was so desperate to protect her identity and horrified to see Sandra withdrawing from her drug abuse, the thought that she was being conned didn’t even cross her mind. So, when she appeared surprised after being cornered, along with Sandra and Max, by Tom, that was a legitimate reaction. However, when that led to a violent altercation, which then led to Tom’s apparent death, it did seem like she, Max, and Sandra were going to get away with the money and the murder.
Madeline thought that she was being very smart by transferring all the money to Tom’s charity fund to get the private detectives off her tail because, after his death, she’d be the owner of the charity, too, along with the rest of Richard’s estate. That meant she really thought that she had killed Tom and he was, in fact, dead. The truth of the matter was that from the moment Sandra re-entered the picture, Tom was the one who was conning Madeline and Max. To atone for her sins, Sandra decided to help Tom get revenge on the two of them and helped him hire an elaborate team that posed as private detectives. The gun that went off on Tom had blanks in them while Tom was wired with a squib (exploding fake blood pouch). And by the time Madeline realized all that, it was too late because she had transferred all the money to Tom, and he was still alive enough to access it. Sandra technically wasn’t guilty of any crime because she was being used by Max, and even Max got nothing by the end. “Sharper” concluded on an optimistic note, with Sandra and Tom ending up together while Max and Madeline were stuck on a flight. However, there’s the possibility that Max and Madeline can start from scratch by conning people and then strike Tom and Sandra again. They’ve got to be more careful, though, because Tom won’t be equipped with just money and power but also with Sandra’s skills and her whole conning team.