REVIEW – “Sharper”

Streaming has provided us an insight into what most mid-budget movies would look like nowadays – the type of films that thrived in both theatrical settings and in video-rental sales in the 90s through to the 2010s are now almost exclusively being made by and for streaming services. Sharper is the perfect example of a new streaming film from Apple TV, which feels like it would’ve been a modest hit and found an amazing shelf-life years ago due to its twisty nature and star-studded cast. The film follows a large ensemble of people who either are or surround themselves with a wealthy family in New York City. This circle quickly becomes tangled and maligned by a web of secrets, lies, and theft. To say anything more or specifically about the film and characters would be to take away from the fun of how it constantly unravels throughout.

One of the most admirable aspects of Sharper is the fact that it wastes almost no-time at all when it comes to getting the plot moving. From the opening moments of the film, I was immediately invested and intrigued by the r prospects of what was going on and how immediately clear it was that not everything was as it seemed. A lot of this is in credit due to Justice Smith and Briana Middleton who give my favorite performances in the film and share some really unique chemistry with one-another that immediately sells you on their characters. In fact, it’s the relationship between the two of them that keeps the film from sinking more than a few times. As with most con movies, Sharper gets a bit preposterous with making you suspend your disbelief in order to accept some twists and turns – but the leads of the film always help anchor your attention to continually be emotionally invested in what’s going on.

The cast also includes notable A-listers such as Julianne Moore, Sebastian Stan, and John Lithgow – all of which turn in expectedly solid performances. There are definitely times when the script’s balance of the ensemble feels like it’s biting off a bit more than it can chew, but on the other hand, it’s also part of the fun to see how the story plays out and all of these narrative threads overlap with one-another; and this about sums up the entirety of Sharper. There’s a lot of strengths and fun to be had when it comes to its layered narrative, conniving characters, and twists and turns – but the moment you begin to critically think about anything going on, it begins to fall apart. The film really is entirely dependent on your suspension of disbelief and how much these actors and the twisty writing can make up for it for you as a viewer.

By the end of the film, when all of the pieces are finally connecting into place, it feels like a satisfying enough pay-off that it cemented a positive review from me; but I can also understand why some viewers would feel completely tired by the time the film cuts to credits and cold to the entire thing. With all of that being said, Sharper is an extremely messy film with some paper-thin characters and numerous moments that are unbelievably silly – but you still may find yourself charmed by the constant twists and turns that the story takes, as well as the immensely talented cast that is carrying the entire film of their shoulders.


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