‘Sharper’ Ending, Explained: Why Did Max Target Tom? Was Madeline Successful In The End?


Director Benjamin Caron takes us to a world of con artists where one tries to surpass the other. While “Sharper” started on a promising note, it gradually went downhill. The need to deliver the unexpected took precedence, and logic simply left the room. “Sharper” is a reminder that casting a bunch of talented actors is not enough to save the show.

Sandra assumed Tom to be the manager of a local bookstore, and their love for books was the conversation starter. There was an immediate connection between the two. Tom gathered his courage and asked Sandra out on a date. Sandra rejected his proposal, though a minute later, she was back at the store asking him out. After overcoming the initial awkwardness, Sandra and Tom became almost inseparable.

Spoilers Ahead

‘Sharper’ Plot Summary: What Is The Film About?

Tom wanted to become a writer, but the pressure to deliver got the better of him. It was the darkest phase of his life, with constant panic attacks and suicidal thoughts clouding his mind. Sandra was a breath of fresh air after all that he had been through. Even though they had known each other for a short span of time, she became an important part of his life. They used to spend most nights together in Sandra’s apartment, and one night her brother banged on the door asking for money. Sandra was ashamed of her brother’s behavior, but at the same time, she could not completely blame him. After their parents passed away, Sandra and her brother shifted from one foster family to another, and her brother eventually fell into the wrong company. Even though she chose not to put up with him anymore, she could not deny that he was the only family she had. Tom’s situation at home was not ideal either; his father had recently married and was quite sick. He did not share a good relationship with his father, a reason strong enough not to introduce Sandra to his family.

While all was going well between Sandra and Tom, one morning, Tom returned to her place and found the apartment completely ransacked. Sandra explained that her brother had come asking for money. His ribs were cracked, his cheekbones were broken, and the gang threatened to kill him if he didn’t pay up. But paying back was not an option for Sandra. She did not have the money they demanded, and if she paid him the little she got, she knew he would use the money to run away. Tom, on the other hand, believed that paying back was the only option she had. If the gang failed to find her brother, they would come searching for her. He offered to help her. He promised to withdraw the money from his bank account. All this while, Tom never told Sandra that his father was a billionaire and that he was the owner of the bookstore. Tom was not proud of his father’s wealth, and he wanted people to remember him for who he was rather than his wealth. Sandra couldn’t have thanked Tom enough, and she promised to pay him back the amount she had borrowed. After handing over the money, Sandra offered to take Tom to the same Japanese restaurant where they went on their first date. Tom waited for Sandra at the restaurant, but she never arrived.

Tom realized that he was scammed, and the love that he thought was pure and true was all pretense. While Sandra was surely not the NYU scholar, who was she? It turns out that Sandra was an addict who dropped out of high school at the age of 16. She was arrested for drug possession, assault, and shoplifting and was picked up by someone who decided to groom her and teach her how to con people.

Who Were Max And Madeline?

Sandra was trained by Max, the man she met during her meeting with a parole officer at a bar. The parole officer lost her calm when she realized that Max was neither clean nor interested in living an honest life; luckily, Max stepped in and offered to help Sandra, aka Sandy. He was ready to offer money and his Rolex watch to the officer so that she would step away from Sandy. Later, he came to an agreement with the parole officer and offered his Rolex watch instead of the five grand she demanded. He asked Sandy to hop into his car, and she soon realized that his Rolex watches were all fake. He was convincing enough to dupe the officer, and he hoped that Sandy would learn his tricks to help him build his business. He watched her evolve from Sandy to Sandra, an NYU scholar who had previously studied at Vassar College and had spent a year abroad in Florence, Italy. Max taught her that the most important rule was to never feel sorry for the mark. She had to remember that their target’s dishonesty was the reason why they could easily cheat them.

Max and Madeline previously worked together and cheated on people as a mother-son duo. In reality, they were lovers, and Max was quite jealous of Madeline’s closeness with their new mark, Richard Hobbes. Richard was an old man who grew fond of Madeline and was ready to overlook the fact that she had a brat for a son. Even as a billionaire, Richard’s life was far from perfect. He was a widower, and his son was uninterested in his business. Madeline made him feel alive, and he wanted to be there for her when she was struggling to support her addicted son, Max. Max was extremely convincing as the addict brat, and his presence was disturbing enough for Richard to want to find a way around him. Madeline won Richard’s trust when he disclosed how often Max would create fake police tests to get money out of his mother, and now Richard. Seeing how distressed Madeline was because of her son, Richard decided to find a solution. He offered to pay Max a monthly salary simply to stay away from their lives. Max demanded to be paid a year’s salary in cash, and he promised to be out of their lives. Richard agreed to it, and he was offered a bag full of cash. Max and Madeline celebrated their success after pulling off their plan. Madeline was supposed to disappear from Richard’s life the next morning, but instead, she chose to stay. She had grown fond of the old man, and the fact that he was a billionaire made it a sweet deal. She wanted stability, and by marrying him, she could have it all. She did not wish to part ways, knowing that she could become a billionaire once her husband died.

‘Sharper’ Ending Explained: Why Did Max Target Tom? Did Tom Die In The End?

Tom was Richard Hobbes’s son, and he was quite a disappointment to his father. Unlike Richard, Tom did not care much about business and wanted to live a quiet life. Madeline realized that marrying Richard was insufficient to ensure the transfer of wealth after his death, so she conspired with Max to demonstrate Tom’s inability to inherit his wealth. Even though Max and Madeline had parted ways after she chose to stay back, she contacted him again to ask for his help to prove Tom unfit. Max perhaps agreed because he had nothing to lose, and his connection with Madeline was too strong. Therefore, he brought in Sandra and prepared her to impress Tom and pull off the scam. Not only did Tom lose his father’s money, but he also had a difficult time coping with the trauma. His mental health had deteriorated, and that was exactly what Madeline wanted Richard to witness. After Richard’s death, his lawyer informed Madeline and Tom that Richard chose Madeline to inherit all his wealth but allowed Tom to head his foundation. Madeline was over the moon with joy; she had finally achieved what she had been aiming for all this time.

Madeline’s happiness was short-lived when Tom introduced her to Braddock and his investigative team, who used to work for Richard. Tom had asked them to find Sandra, and using her picture, they managed to gather information about her. Madeline knew that her days would be numbered if they found Sandra. She feared that Sandra would confess to working with Mark, he would spill out her name, and all her hard work would go to waste. So, she convinced Tom to drop the case, but she was a little too late. Braddock and his team found Sandra and brought her to the Hobbes’ apartment. Tom wanted her to stay in the apartment until she sobered up. Madeline decided to strike a middle ground in order to persuade Sandra to keep the truth to herself. Sandra was in terrible shape; she was back to abusing drugs, and all she wanted to do was meet Max. She wanted to confront him and make him apologize for leaving her with nothing. Madeline agreed to give her Max, but in return, she wanted Sandra never to reveal her real identity to Tom. After contacting Max several times, he responded and agreed to meet her. Madeline arranged a meeting and took Sandra along with her. Sandra walked up to Max and asked him to apologize, but he refused to do so. He did not feel sorry for her; he simply did what was necessary. While Sandra argued with Max and Madeline, Braddock, his team, and Tom arrived at the scene. Apparently, Braddock had his doubts about Madeline and was convinced that she pulled a trick to inherit the wealth. Tom was completely torn. He got hold of Braddock’s gun and threatened to shoot Sandra. Though he eventually decided that, since Madeline was the one behind it all, he must shoot her to end it all. Sandra managed to tackle Tom, and he dropped the gun, but Madeline picked it up instantly. Tom dared Madeline to shoot him, and in that moment of extreme tension and betrayal, he placed the gun to his chest and pulled the trigger while the gun was in Madeline’s hand.

Braddock accused Madeline of murdering Tom and asked his men to call the police. Madeline was completely shaken; she was a con artist but not a murderer, and she was not ready to go to prison for something she did not intend to do. She requested that Braddock gave her a chance and promised to transfer all the money to the foundation. She called her lawyer immediately and arranged to legally transfer the entire wealth to the foundation. Meanwhile, Braddock asked his men to make Tom’s murder look like an act of robbery. Madeline, Max, and Sandra were taken to the airport by Braddock’s team and asked to leave immediately. Sandra could not believe what she had just witnessed; she could not get over the shock of watching Tom die right in front of her eyes. On the other hand, Madeline was proud of herself. While everyone else was convinced she had lost billions of dollars, they forgot Madeline was a trustee at the foundation and that now that Tom was gone, she would be in charge of the foundation. As Madeline was gloating about her success, she soon realized that the blood stain on her shirt was not blood. She immediately connected the dots and knew that Tom was alive, and she was a fool to believe what she saw. She doubted Max, but he was clueless about it, and she realized that Sandra, their new recruit, had fooled them both.

It turns out that after Max left her penniless, Sandra started working at a bar. She came across a newspaper article about Richard and his new wife. When she saw Tom’s picture, she knew that she had to make things right. Tom was not a dishonest man, yet Max plotted to cheat on him. After confessing the truth to Tom, they got together to figure out a way to get back what was rightfully Tom’s. Braddock and his investigative team were hired actors who practiced day and night to make the act look convincing. They designed the fake gun and arranged fake blood to make it look real. “Sharper” ends on a happy note, with Tom and Sandra successfully getting rid of Madeline. But will Tom learn to trust Sandra? Will they try to get back together? Maybe Tom was thankful to Sandra for going to such an extreme length to help him, though trusting her completely would require a lot more time.

There were a number of logical flaws in “Sharper.” The fact that a stranger left his room unattended to allow a woman he met at a bar to resolve her problems with her boyfriend was a little difficult to digest. It was also strange how a billionaire chose not to conduct a background check on the woman he started dating or even on her son, who wanted cash upfront. The ending of “Sharper” was quite laughable and cringe, to be honest. I firmly believe that there could have been better ways to show Tom’s triumph in the end than the bizarre explanation that we were served.

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Srijoni Rudra
Srijoni Rudra
Srijoni has worked as a film researcher on a government-sponsored project and is currently employed as a film studies teacher at a private institute. She holds a Master of Arts degree in Film Studies. Film History and feminist reading of cinema are her areas of interest.

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